ESG Radio Newsletter 9th March 2017
Keywords: Diesel pollution/Transport Plan and Timeline/Refinery Protest/DPC and more
Car pollution is rearing its ugly head once again with alarming reports flooding mainstream media about how citizens from over major cities around the world are struggling to breathe.
This is a crucial issue but not a new one. For well over a decade the WHO has rung alarm bells about the consequences for public health from air pollution from industry and vehicular traffic warning governments and manufacturers about the need for swift action on this growing health crisis.
When diesel replaced petrol particularly in the commercial world as both cheaper and initially better for public health, it was not then known about the pervasive and dangerous nature of diesel emissions – primarily in releasing particulate matter – that’s fine dust particles from incomplete combustion, in various sizes, the smallest at 2.5s known to penetrate deep into our bodies and cause severe health impacts. These include respiratory as well as cardiovascular problems. Children, the elderly and those affected by any type of breathing or heart problems also especially vulnerable.
So, one would expect prompt action to rid diesel vehicles from our roads? Easier said than done- the EU has worked hard to rein in car manufacturers to move away from diesel, meeting considerable resistance and delays, but getting some results. Furthermore city after city in Europe has pledged to rid itself altogether from diesel cars on their roads, many by the end of this decade. So, its clear the message is getting through and action being taken. But more needs to be done and faster.
Speaking locally, we have our own issues with diesel vehicles, old and new, without a long-term plan in place to address this, never mind a short-term plan. While this pollution is widespread there are hotspots in Gibraltar where diesel fumes are likely to be causing health impacts – for example Parliament lane, the playground at Cathedral Square, Prince Edwards road, Winston Churchill avenue, among others.
The ESG has raised these issues before with various administrations and is seeking a meeting with the Minister for Transport to discuss these afresh and other issues. Until such time as the runway tunnel road is completed the northern part of Gibraltar’s road are in crisis mode whenever there is more than one flight in at a time. Construction works near the schools are not helping the situation either. Imagine the fumes churning out during these periods of gridlock?
Another important matter for us is a timeline for the implementation of the Transport Plan. We hope that with this the community can better understand the forward thinking planned to improve transport and traffic issues for Gibraltar. We would hope that such a plan will be targeting the de-scaling of diesel vehicles, greater use of electric and hybrid, promotion of cycling, walking etc.
On another matter is the recent protest held in Algeciras by Ecologistas en Ación against industry pollution in the Campo and need for rigorous epidemiological studies that saw several hundred citizens support the march. Though it was downplayed by La Junta claiming smoking is the cause of all sickness in the Campo, as they are prone to do, the march made its point, of that there is no doubt.
The ESG lodged its own formal complaint with the EC after the excessive flaring at the CEPSA Oil Refinery at the end of January this year – we have had several replies from the commission to date that the issue is being looked into by the dedicated Clean Air Unit for Industry and we shall report any substantial replies once we have these. We will not let the matter drop. It was curious to read about a recent shutdown and works carried out at the refinery to improve efficiency and emissions – it’s a mystery what these works might have been related to as CEPSA refused to answer any of our letters and emails probing for information on the recent pollution spikes.
Thanks for listening – some notable dates coming up: Earth Hour 2017 on the 25th March and World Earth Day on the 22nd April. More information on these will be issued separately – Also next Development and Planning Commission date is on the 28th March. Thanks for listening. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit esg-gib.net for more information.