Cutting through the smog: What to do to fight air pollution

2019-04-04 10:08:10

By Nic Fleming “Unlike finding a cure for cancer, we know how to tackle this problem because we’ve done it before,” says Michael Brauer of the University of British Columbia. “The new laws introduced in the UK in the wake of 1952 [the pea-souper smog that killed 12,000 Londoners] and the way California has set standards to force industry to innovate and become cleaner point the way.” Still, solutions evade us. In the West, transport is the main cause for concern. Per capita car ownership roughly doubled between 1970 and 2012 in most of North America, western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Cities have tried to keep cars off the road in several ways. Paris only allows vehicles with odd or even licence plate numbers on certain days. Freiberg in Germany has focused on providing cheap, efficient public transport. London and Stockholm have introduced congestion charges. Evaluating these schemes is a challenge, because you would need to isolate their impact on pollution from other factors that might have also changed pollution levels. The best available evidence suggests many major efforts to reduce pollution from traffic have either failed or had little measurable effect. Some road space rationing schemes have had perverse knock-on effects. According to some reports,