The Mayor of Madrid is very proud of the reductions in air pollution achieved during his term of office. "We have better air quality in Madrid than ever before", he boasted this year.
Unfortunately the way he lowered the rating was to move the machines that measure pollution. Twelve out of the 27 stations were moved from busy streets to parks and gardens. What a great way to come to grips with major environmental issues.
Photo: el pais: Madrid's polluted skies in October, 2010
Madrid's monitoring showed sharply lower nitrogen dioxide levels than in previous years. However, the prosecutor for environmental affairs smelled something, and it wasn't just the dirty air. He ordered officials to take their own readings and found that since 2005 the level of pollution had stayed the same. According to the FInancial Times, he said that "not even the relation of some measurement stations has managed to hide a result that in any light must be regarded as serious."
Whilst other major cities around the world grapple with the question of how to deal with tighter restrictions on acceptable air pollution, this man has shown the way forward.
Photo: cincodias: Mayor Ruiz-Gallardon
The Mayor says that it is all a plot by the dastardly Socialist government before the May elections. If it hadn't given tax breaks to diesel cars none of this would have happened. Except Madrid has had consistently high pollution since 2005 and has refused to introduce a congestion charge or bicycles.
His solution to not meeting the EU rules for acceptable levels of nitrogen dioxide seems to be to apply for a moratorium on complying with them. There doesn't seem to be any master plan as to how they will then reduce traffic.
Madrid isn't alone, mind you. The EU rules say that nitrogen dioxide should not exceed 40 microgrammes a cubic metre over the year. Of 27 EU members, twenty have failed to meet the standards set for levels of nitrogen dioxide, including London. It has already exceeded the year's targets: in the first 3 weeks of the year. However, London's Mayor says he is "100 per cent committed to improving air quality, which is why he is developing a comprehensive plan to tackle the problem. But even this will not be enough to meet the limit values for NO2 pollution in 2015."
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