DOE endorses “Car-Free Day”

The Department of Environment has endorsed the “Car-Free Tuesday” campaign, which encourages Iranians to forego using private vehicles on Tuesdays.

Ostensibly fed up with the lack of action to curb air pollution, environmentalists in Arak, one of Iran’s eight polluted metropolises, started the campaign to help raise awareness about the role of the general public in reducing air pollution.

“If caught on, community-driven initiatives such as this will have an enormous impact on reducing pollution and improving air quality,” Muhammad Darvish, deputy for education and public participation at the DOE, told ISNA.

In a symbolic show of support for the campaign, DOE chief Massoumeh Ebtekar took a taxi to work on Tuesday.

While it is not exactly known why the organizers chose Tuesday as car-free day, it could be due to the fact that the ‘National Clean Air Day’ fell on Tuesday (January 19) this year.

The department has pledged to promote the campaign far and wide.

Similar campaigns have been successfully tested in developed countries. On September 27, the French capital Paris enforced a “car-free day” which was met with overwhelming support. The city also recorded a 40% drop in nitrogen oxide levels and a whopping 50% drop in noise pollution.

Last October, Oslo’s newly-elected city council said private cars will be banned from the center of the Norwegian capital by 2019, in what will be the first permanent restriction of its kind.

With 80,000 annual pollution-related deaths every year, Iran is a top-five country in terms of air pollution mortality.

In Tehran alone, more than 4,400 people die every year due to poor air quality, meaning one person dies every two hours due to dangerously high concentrations of air pollutants.

The Iranian capital’s air pollution crisis has forced officials to cancel schools for a total of seven days in the past four weeks.
There are about five million cars, including about 300,000 clunkers, in the permanently clogged streets of the expanding metropolis that is home to almost 12 million people.

By Financial Tribune