The mayors of Athens, Paris, Madrid and Mexico City are to take drastic measures addressing growing air quality issues from their respective cities and banning diesel vehicles by 2025.
Speaking on Friday at the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City, the leaders said they’d also work to further incentivise the uptake of alternatively fuelled vehicles and improve infrastructure for walking and cycling.
Giorgos Kaminis, mayor of Athens, said, “Our goal is to ultimately remove all cars from the centre of Athens in the years to come. I support the bold ambition of the [Greek] Air Quality Declaration and call on our partners in the national government to implement their commitments based on the international climate action agreements and to join our common effort to clean the air that we breathe.”
Citing millions of deaths linked to air pollution worldwide every year, the four mayors vowed to create incentives for alternatives to diesel, an about-face from years of government encouragement in Europe for automakers to advance diesel technology, which can be more efficient than gasoline.
“Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes – particularly for our most vulnerable citizens,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris said.
Europe has long grappled with striking an environmentally friendly balance with automakers. Diesel engines account for half of new car sales there, according to reports and have led the world in advances to the fuel-efficient alternative to gas.
Some 3.7 million deaths are linked to outdoor air pollution every year, in addition to 4.3 million from indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organisation, making it the world’s single largest environmental health risk.