Diesel car ban fails to solve Rome smog problem

Smog in Rome. Photo credit: Il Messaggero

 ROME – The temporary ban on diesel cars has proved ineffective in countering the Italian capital’s smog emergency as particulate levels remain high across the city.

 Smog levels have actually risen since the ban took effect.  Tuesday and Wednesday saw nine out of 13 monitoring stations over the legal limit for PM10 (small particles), compared to eight on Monday, before the latest measures were imposed, La Repubblica reported.

 However, the three days’ block on all diesel cars during rush hours has provoked anger from Romans, particularly those who thought that by buying a more environmentally friendly Euro-6 classified car, they would avoid such bans.

 The continuing high levels of PM10 are being attributed to the polluting affects of heating systems. Furthermore, although the ban affects nearly 700,000 cars, it exempts many vehicles including buses – over 60 per cent of which use diesel, as ironically do many traffic wardens’ cars, Il Messaggero said.

 Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi has been particularly criticised for failing to implement more decisive anti-pollution measures.

 "I am seeing many controversies and requests related to these diesel stop measures. Evidently our first goal is to protect public health, we are moving within the framework of what is provided for by the law,” Raggi said.

 Cities across Italy are struggling to deal with pollution – Milan, Turin and Florence also have bans in place on cars in response to high smog levels, although only Rome has banned Euro-6 diesel cars.