The government with a plan against pollution: We will breathe clean air after two years
- In one month only 80 vehicles are excluded from traffic due to harmful gas emissions
- The Government provides environmental labels and subsidies for environmentally friendly and hybrid vehicles
- The age limit of the vehicles in Macedonia is 16.6 years
Written by: Bjanka Stankovikj
Encouraged by recent media reports that Macedonia is one of the most polluted countries in the world, the government has hastened to present the Programme for Reduction of Air Pollution, which is envisaged for the period 2019-2020.
According to Deputy Minister of Environment Jani Makraduli, its goal is to reduce the air pollution in Skopje up to 50%, and in other cities between 30% and 50%.
Merima Kondov, from the initiative Skopje Smog Alarm, is not optimistic that something will be specifically resolved with the Programme. She says that citizens voted for this government in order for it to immediately take measures, and not to begin planning after two years.
“And while every normal person declares this piece of land to be toxic, as if a nuclear plant burst here, here is what our ministers made the previous week: They adopted a plan for a plan! Otherwise, in the plan that we have examined in detail, there are desperate seven so-called measures with a very wide range of actions that, in comparison with the pace they work with, we will lose thousands of lives until someone realizes that 2020 is very far away”, Kondov said.
Subsidies and environmental labels – one of Government’s measures
The authorities will be fighting pollution through measures envisioned in several areas, including transport. Namely, the plan says:
“Air pollution from this sector is most directly felt by the citizens, because the emissions are on a daily level of movement of citizens. Therefore, the activities of this sector will be directed not only towards reducing emissions, but also reducing the exposure of citizens while moving from one place to another.”
The activities will focus on: amendments to the law on vehicles (introduction of environmental labels, subsidies for the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles, subsidies for the installation of devices using LPG or natural gas), restructuring of public transport, introduction of winter traffic regime and introduction of the Park & Ride system.
According to data from the Makstat base of the State Statistical Office, the average age of passenger vehicles last year in Macedonia was 18.7 years.
Last year, a total of 466,221 vehicles were registered, including motorcycles, passenger, freight, working, towing cars, as well as buses and tractors. Out of these, the most of them, 233,281 thousand are petrol users, while the total of gasoline users is 218,554. Gasoline-gas was used only by 12.111 and alcohol by 1.720. Among registered vehicles using electricity there were only 80.
We also contacted the Ministry of the Interior and we asked how many vehicles were excluded from the traffic due to harmful emissions of smoke in the period from January 2017 to October 2018, and they responded:
“We are informing you that at the moment we have the following data: in the period from 20th of September up to 20th October 2018, a total of 80 passenger cars have been excluded on the basis of exhaust emissions”, the ministry said.
The draft law amending the Law on vehicles, proposed by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, and represented by the Minister of Economy, Kreshnik Bekteshi and his deputy Kire Naumov, envisage two new articles regarding the ecological categorization of the vehicles.
Namely, according to the Law, all vehicles participating in the traffic on the roads must be marked with an environmental label for the purpose of marking the environmental category of the vehicle.
- The first ecological category – the green label will be on vehicles with Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards, as well as vehicles with Euro 4 which include a liquid gas or compressed natural gas device, as well as electric and hybrid vehicles
(During an enormous increase in air pollution in cities, these vehicles will be able to move freely in protected ecological zones, according to the decisions of the municipalities and the City of Skopje.)
- The second ecological category – yellow label will be on vehicles with Euro 3 and Euro 4 standards, as well as vehicles with Euro 2 that have a liquid gas or compressed natural gas device installed.
(During an increased air pollution in the cities, there will be restrictions on the movement for these vehicles, according to the decisions of the municipalities and the City of Skopje.)
- The third ecological category – red label will be on vehicles with Euro 2 or Euro 1 standard or without such a standard.
(During periods of an increased air pollution in the cities, traffic will be prohibited for these vehicles.)
Namely, as the Ministry of Economy explained for “Meta”, the label would be made only once and it would be valid until the law changes or a liquid-gas or methane device is installed in the vehicle, so that the vehicle could pass into a higher category.
Regarding the measures, the initiative “Na Tochak” (On Bike) reacted through a Facebook announcement:
“Instead of focusing on the car and its engine (which is alright to change, but cannot be treated as being the essence of the traffic problem), we need to focus on the city, its planning and management. We need to change the way we look at traffic, we need new multimodal concepts in which walking, riding a bike, public transport are serious and preferred options.
A modern engine is an analgesic for some of the problems, but a modern city is the remedy for all problems that originate from traffic: pollution, climate change, insecurity, congestion, physical inactivity, occupied public space.”
The authorities will motivate by subsidies
In Macedonia 377 cars that use electricity have been registered in the last six years. The draft law provides subsidies of 5,000 euros for each purchased electric vehicle, and 3,000 euros for a purchased hybrid vehicle. In the first year after the law comes in effect, a total of 200 such subsidies will be granted. There will also be subsidies for the installation of liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas, i.e. methane, up to 50% of the costs for purchasing and installing the device, but up to 300 euros per vehicle. In the first year, 1,200 subsidies are planned.
In the draft budget for 2019, the government envisages 11 million for the Ministry of Environment and about one million euros for the work of the State Environmental Inspectorate. But it will set aside an initial fund of 1.5 million euros, which will be additional funds, in addition to the already existing ones in various ministries that are related to environmental protection.
The thought that maybe two years from now, citizens will feel the change of air, encourages them to continue the fight, while the government and the opposition pass the buck.
Gorjan Jovanovski, creator of the application “Moj Vozduh” (My Air) made the first archive of pollutants. In it, anyone can upload images, description and location of the visible pollutants. Up to now, 61 pollutants have been recorded.
Several civil society organizations, two years ago, i.e. in 2016, presented the proposal for ecological categorization within the series of recommendations they gave for dealing with pollution.