Rare Meeting to Discuss Air Pollution, Solutions

Rare Meeting to Discuss  Air Pollution, SolutionsRare Meeting to Discuss  Air Pollution, Solutions

With air pollution reaching a critical point in recent days, many officials are raising the alarm and demanding a permanent solution to the crisis. A rare trilateral meeting is slated for Wednesday (Nov 26) attended by Masoumeh Ebtekar, head of the DoE, Tehran Mayor Bagher Ghalibaf  and the Majlis Environment Committee to address the existing challenges in air pollution.

Kamal Pirmoazzen, a member of the Majlis committee, who announced the meeting, blamed old vehicles and motorcycles and substandard diesel fuel for the capital’s polluted air.

‘’Although there has been some improvement compared to last year, air pollution is still a major health threat,” Pirmoazzen cautioned. ‘’Tackling air pollution requires national will and the joint effort of all the institutions.’’ The environment committee has held continuous meetings over long periods of time to discuss ways to address air pollution in big cities, he said.

He pointed to temperature inversions that mostly occur in winter and said the only way to get relief is to wait for precipitation. ‘’People’s cooperation by using public transport also helps,’’ he said, stressing that cooperation is indispensible to tackle air pollution.  Precipitation this year is lower compared to the previous year, he noted, hoping for more rainfall and snow to provide a respite from the dangerous pollution.

 Long-Term Solutions

Mohammad Reza Tabesh, who presides over the Majlis Environment Committee, in an interview with ICANA said, to address air pollution adequately, “sustained actions are needed over the long term.” Reducing sulfur content in diesel fuel, improving the quality of gasoline to meet Euro 4 standards, eliminating benzene in gasoline and reducing the level of aromatics, are some of the measures taken to reduce air pollution, he pointed out.

‘’The level of benzene in gasoline was 6% to 7 % in the past but now it’s been reduced to 1% which is close to global standards,’’ Tabesh said. Eliminating toxic chemicals from fuel is a very important initiative which will help improve air quality and end the inversion effect, he maintained.

 Propitious Signs    

People in Tehran experienced 9 clean air days in the first 8 months of the current year (started March 21) which saw a 25% increase compared to the same period last year. This was announced by Said Motesaddi a deputy at the DoE. Motesaddi said this was largely due to the improved quality of gasoline now being distributed in Tehran, Arak and Mashhad. He said there is close cooperation between the oil ministry and the DoE for monitoring gasoline.

Motesaddi said the long-awaited Clean Air Act is now ready, pending final approval by MPs. ‘’An emphasis on scientific approach and shared work between the organizations defines our endeavors in addressing air pollution,’’ he said, stressing the need to remove “the root causes of air pollution instead of offering palliatives.” If the sources of air pollution are eliminated, the financial burden will be reduced considerably, he maintained. ‘’In addition to monetary costs, air pollution also causes inefficiency at work, fatigue, destruction of resources and a decline in the standard of living,’’ he said.

 Education & Incentives

Motesaddi emphasized the role of peoples’ education in tackling air pollution saying ‘’the people must become knowledgeable on environmental issues to help us reduce the problems.’’

He acknowledged the need to confront the polluting industries but said there must be some amendments to the existing laws so that “the fines for violators will be regulated according to the degree of spoilage they cause.” A pledge has been made to grant loans for environment projects from the National Fund, he said, but acknowledged the difficult process to obtain loans.

Among other incentives, Motesaddi pointed to the duty-free import of electric cars from the current year. ‘’We hope this is a starting point for importing electric cars into the country,’’ he added.