What Italy can do about air quality

What Italy can do about air quality

Marco Foti's speech

The Report of Legambiente "Mal'Aria", in the Special Edition of 2021, explores the current (and perhaps not, unfortunately) theme of environmental pollution extended to all sectors. The starting point for my reflection is concentrated on the theme of mobility, one of the "reasons" triggering pollution in cities.

Before starting the examination of the Legambiente Report, also made with the support of Ipsos, I would like to draw attention to the news according to which the European Court of Justice, based on the request of the European Commission, Italy has "continuously and systematic, exceeded the values ​​set for particulate matter (PM10), not adopted, starting from June 2010, appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the limit values, failure to comply with the obligation to ensure that air quality plans include measures adequate so that the exceeding of the values ​​is as short as possible ".

The Court of Justice of the European Union, with the sentence of 10 November 2020 (C-644/18), therefore condemned Italy and rejected all the arguments proposed, considering that the Italian State "has defaulted and has violated the directive 2008/50, set up to protect human health and the environment ".

In 2021 the European Environment Agency (EEA), or the European Environment Agency, according to the Legambiente Report, released a map of the urban air quality in which the average values ​​of fine particulate matter (PM2 , 5) of the last two years (2019 and 2020) of more than 300 European cities of which both had the data available. Among these, the three cleanest cities were Umeå (Sweden) with an average of 3.7 micrograms per meter, followed by Tampere (Finland) with 3.8 and Funchal (Portugal) with 4.2. On the other hand, the three most polluted cities were Nowy Sacz (Poland) with 27.3 micrograms / cubic meter, Cremona (Italy) with 25.9 and Slavonski Brod (Croatia) with 25.7 mcg / mc.

In the last ten positions there are also the cities of Vicenza (25.6), Brescia (24) and Pavia (22.9) all judged with "poor" air quality (the EEA considers the air quality to be "very poor "when PM2.5 levels are equal to or higher than the regulatory limit of this pollutant equal to 25 μg / mc and" poor "if between 15 and 25 micrograms per cubic meter).

The good news, on the other hand, is recorded in the 127 cities which, according to the map drawn up by the EEA, record an air quality classified as "good" (values ​​lower than those suggested by the WHO for long-term exposure to PM2.5 , established in 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air). Among these there are also the Italian cities of Sassari (5.8 μg / mc), Genoa (7.1 μg / mc), Livorno (8.8 μg / mc), Salerno (9.1 μg / mc) Savona ( 9.3 μg / mc) and Catanzaro (9.4 μg / mc).

Obviously, all this is not enough to cheer up a country which, together with all European countries and beyond, must organize the near future to overcome the many critical issues.

Prime Minister Draghi also spoke about it in a speech at the climate summit convened by US President Biden. “We need to honor our climate commitments and, in some cases, be ready to make bolder ones. The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that, to achieve the goal, we need to achieve immediate, rapid and significant reductions in emissions. We cannot simply count on others: we must all do our part ”.

Quite clear and eloquent message. But what can we do about mobility?

The Legambiente Report provides some suggestions for which "the actions to be introduced must be effective, incisive and lasting in order to begin to reverse the course".

In the urban environment, in addition to domestic heating, the sector that has the greatest impact is mobility, excluding the cases of some cities where industrial or agricultural pollution has a significant impact. There is talk of a "paradigm shift", in this newspaper we have been writing it for some time: mobility is the keystone of the change of cities and urban well-being, yes, precisely of "urban well-being".

Mal'Aria cites, in terms of mobility, the urgent measures to be taken, which I summarize:

  • limit the circulation of the most polluting vehicles (euro 4 diesel per hour from this autumn and forever to all combustion cars over 20 years old, as already foreseen in polluted regions;
  • eliminate bonuses and scrapping incentives for the purchase of combustion cars;

– incentivize light electric mobility, rental and sharing (sharing);

– provide for local public transport and on-call services, including community, local and corporate services;

  • implement an emergency decree, to be converted into law, to introduce speed restrictions due to pollution on roads and motorways, as already in use in France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.

Not least the structural measures, which according to the Legambiente Report, must:

  • redesign the public space on a human scale, organize proximity after distancing, including services, work and study at a distance: everything you need must be reachable within 15 minutes on foot from where you live, even the services of transportation ("city 15 minutes"), both in the city and in the towns;
  • increase the supply of electric public transport with 15,000 new buses for LPT (refinancing the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Mobility in favor of zero-emission buses only);
  • new tram networks for 150 km (or rapid transit trolleybuses);
  • iron maintenance (5,000 new trains and adaptation of the regional network with completion of electrification);
  • roads at 30 km per hour, school roads, smart cities, speed moderation (80% urban roads shared between bicycles and motor vehicles), creating 5,000 km of cycle paths and cycle lanes, road safety (vision zero), encouraging mobility electricity shared also in the suburbs and smaller centers, including community or company;
  • stop on the marketing of new internal combustion vehicles by 2030 (for the renewal of the fleet of private family cars, favor – as in all of Europe – the recent second-hand market, instead of bonuses to combustion cars that in a few years will no longer be able to circular).

A series of measures that place the MIMS and the Ministry of Ecological Transition in front of precise and non-postponable choices. Some questionable, for God's sake, but on the whole understandable and already abundantly discussed. We look forward confidently.

Ad maiora.


This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/smartcity/italia-qualita-aria-mobilita/ on Tue, 21 Sep 2021 08:50:55 +0000.