(By CNA) The Catalan Government released an Action Plan this week to improve air quality in 40 municipalities of Barcelona’s Metropolitan Area with the goal to fight climate change.
The main objective of the plan is to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10), to comply with European law. The plan includes a range of measures, aimed at reducing pollution, in activities involving the mobility of people and goods, industrial activity, and even working to change citizens’ habits.
There will be a 25% increase in the fares of municipal parking and highway tolls within this area. Another aspect is that public transport will become half price during incidents of high pollution. For example, travel within Metropolitan Transport Area (ATM) within Barcelona, including buses, metros and trams, will be half price. This is hoped to be in place between 2015 and 2016, to coincide with the launch of the new T-Mobility transportation card (similar to London’s Oyster Card). According to the Catalan Ministry of Planning and Sustainability, the plan will cover a total area of 725 square kilometres, and a combined population of 4.3 million.
Travel for half price
As part of the Catalan Government scheme approved this week, all travel on public transport will be half price during incidents of high air pollution. Taking for example the ATM system of public transport in Barcelona, the plan should be developed and in place between 2015 and 2016, to coincide with the launch of T-Mobilitat, a new contactless card that will integrate all the different fares in public transport within Barcelona and some surrounding areas.
Tax breaks for clean industry
Industries introducing modern techniques that release lower levels of gaseous and particulate emissions, thereby reducing pollutant levels, will be rewarded with tax breaks. This is part of a Catalan Government scheme to accelerate the number of companies meeting the targets according to the European Directive on Emissions.
In addition, existing voluntary agreements made with industries such as glass, steel, cement and energy will be reinforced, to speed up the legal incorporation of improved techniques under the Directive. Also, the control of emissions from the main producers within Barcelona Metropolitan Area will continue to be monitored.
Promoting rail services
In Catalonia, only 3% of all freight transport is done by rail, compared with an average of 10% in the EU. To address this, and as part of the Action Plan, rail services will be promoted and encouraged over transport by road, including that of public transportation.
In addition, information will be disseminated during periods of high air contamination, to inform the public of levels of air quality. Previous incidents, none of which lasted more than 4 days, have been recorded in February, September and October 2011, July and October 2012, and the most recent in December last year.