18 | JUN | 2019
Mexico City's new environmental contingency plan
Last week, pollution levels in the city reached alarming levels - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexico City's new environmental contingency plan

Mexico City
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After the city went through an environmental crisis, authorities have announced new measures

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Today Mexico City is launching an environmental contingency program. After the city went through some of its worst days in regards to pollution last week, local authorities announced new measures to try to lower pollution levels when it reaches alarming levels.

The plan includes a preventive phase, where authorities will start implementing actions before pollution reaches critical levels. From now on, as soon as the Metropolitan Air Quality Level reaches 140 ozone points or 135 points of PM 2.5 particles, 50% of official vehicles won't circulate; this measure includes vehicles that belong to Mexico City's government, and those from the city's boroughs, municipalities, as well as federal vehicles.

Implementing measures once pollution levels are increasing is not enough, the local government should develop better actions; the health of its inhabitants, especially vulnerable groups, shouldn't be protected once pollution levels reach an alarming level. Early actions could prevent terrible situations.

During the presentation of the program, Mexico City's mayor was present, as well as the State of Mexico governor, and the federal Environment Minister. Mexico City's mayor can't fight pollution levels by herself. The metropolitan area includes 16 boroughs in Mexico City and 224 municipalities in the State of Mexico, Hidalgo, Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala. The main causes behind the most recent environmental contingency were the fires registered in neighboring states, this is why cooperation between all these states in key.

Another innovative measure included in the program is that during Phase 1, 20% of the cars registered as 00 and 0, the ones that pollute the most, won't be allowed to circulate throughout the city. Although it has been acknowledged that the older cars are the ones that pollute the most, during the environmental contingency it was argued that it is necessary to reduce the number of active vehicles in order to improve mobility but will public transport have the proper response capacity in the face of an increase in the number of users? Very little has been said about the need to focus on improving public transport, which could discourage the use of vehicles. Nothing was said about protests; last week, despite the contingency, the city was taken over by protestors.

The solution or at least the containment measures, to this problem is collaboration. Pollution is an issue that worries everyone. There are civil society organizations interested and willing to propose solutions, they should be heard. When all the voices are heard, success is easier to achieve.


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