"We are considering the introduction of two low-emission zones in Sofia, which would impose restrictions on the entry of polluting cars. The first includes the historic center, and the second has a significantly wider scope." This was announced by Zafir Zarkov, Deputy Chairman of the Transport Commission of the Sofia Municipal Council at the presentation of an international report on the effects of the implementation of a low-emission zone in Sofia.
Restrictions start with Euro 1 and Euro 2, which are 30% of all cars in the city
As the first stage of the introduction of low-emission zones in Sofia, a ban on entering them for the most polluting cars is envisaged. These are cars that do not have a Euro standard, those of environmental group 1 and diesel Euro 2. According to studies, they represent about 30% of all cars in the city. At the moment, the municipality envisages the ban to be valid for the winter season, and not only for the days with exceedances of the PM. At the next stage, the group of cars on the banned list will be expanded. The proposal is that there will be no restrictions for those living in the zones, said Zafir Zarkov. But it is important to give a forecast to the citizens how this area will develop over time and which cars will be subject to entry restrictions so that people can make their plans, he explained.
At the same time, it is planned to limit the speed of movement in the city, Zarkov added. And, as experts say, this does not lead to an increase in emissions, so it is an effective measure to limit car traffic in the city.
"Currently, the basic infrastructure for control of the zone has been built, and the process of putting stickers on the cars with their annual technical inspection is underway," said Zafir Zarkov. We upgraded the traffic monitoring system with the ability to read car numbers, Zarkov explained.
Remote measurement of emissions can still be difficult and is a challenge for all countries.
Active signs of low-emission zones and discussion of the new regulation in December
The municipality plans to well mark the low-emission zone not only with road markings, but also with active signs to warn people shortly before.
As early as December, Sofia Municipality will organize several discussions on the ordinance that Sofia Municipality wants to adopt with all the requirements and rules for the implementation of low-emission zones.
At the beginning of 2021, at the initiative of the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova, the National Assembly adopted amendments to the Atmospheric Air Quality Act, which gave additional powers to municipalities to introduce low-emission zones. This is done by ordinances issued by local authorities. The introduction of such zones in Sofia was also ruled by a court decision as a measure to reduce the excess of fine dust particles (PM).
The introduction of a low-emission zone is one of the measures in the Program of Sofia Municipality for Improving Air Quality 2021 - 2026. Transport has a share of 10% of emissions. But today's event focused on the problem of tackling road pollution. Along with the renewal of the public transport staff, he pointed out the construction of the subway, buffer parking lots and free use to leave people in the outskirts of the city, free parking in paid areas for electric cars, significantly increased green paid area, it has become blue and more expensive, Zarkov said.
Political leadership, political leadership and, of course, more information campaigns are needed to accept the new restrictions, emphasizing that this is done to avoid health risks, said the Swedish Ambassador. Katarina Rangnit.
But you have to provide alternatives to cars, even electric bicycles, for which we are criticized, but the benefits are enormous, the introduction of various taxes and economic incentives, street cleaning, higher parking costs, lower speeds, said Rangnit.
You will not succeed if you do not implement all the measures, she added.
A well-designed area could significantly accelerate the reduction of NOX and PM emissions in Sofia.
The gradual introduction of low-emission limits not only gradually increases the benefits in terms of emissions, but also provides affected drivers with ample time to plan their future car purchases.
The steps to introduce the scheme, which will phase out pre-Euro 6 diesel cars for NOX emissions and pre-Euro 5 diesel cars for PM emissions, are particularly important in reducing emissions. In addition, greater emission benefits can be achieved more quickly by accelerating the tightening of restrictions on cars.
The introduction of smooth measures each year will lead to 75% of nitrogen oxide emissions
The zoning schedule, with restrictions tightened each year, would lead to a 75% reduction in NOX emissions approximately three years earlier and fine particulate matter emissions two years earlier than in the biennial schedule. intervals, show the results of a report on the Impact of the introduction of a low-emission zone in Sofia, prepared by the organizations ICCT and TRUE. In any case, the introduction of low-emission zones will be beneficial in reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter. As effective implementation of the measures will lead to a 90% reduction in nitrogen oxides by 2032. Emissions of fine particulate matter can be halved in just two years, the report said.
There should be alternatives for people who cannot buy electric cars
In addition, lower-income drivers are usually the ones with the fewest opportunities to buy a new car, as newer, cleaner cars are more expensive. Therefore, in order to pursue a fair policy on low-emission zones, consideration should be given to increasing access to public transport by improving public transport and cycling infrastructure, and ensuring that public transport is more accessible than private cars. In addition, financial assistance may be offered to lower-income groups for the purchase of clean cars or cars with 24 Müller and Le Petit zero emissions.
A successful example of such a program is the French scheme to scrap old cars and replace them with electric cars, which has helped France stabilize emissions from new passenger cars and increase sales of electric cars.
Consideration should be given to establishing different rules for individuals and small business owners and to providing for exceptions for emergency vehicles, as well as for drivers and passengers with disabilities.
Monitoring and enforcement are key to ensuring the efficiency of low emission zones.
The hybrid event "Challenges and opportunities for improving air quality" was organized by Clean Air Fund in partnership with ICCT, FIA, TRUE, Swedish-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and the initiative of Sofia Municipality "Green Sofia". It presented a study on the expected benefits of the introduction of a low-emission zone in Sofia in terms of NOX and PM emissions, conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) commissioned by the Clean Air Fund.