Residents of Mexico City have been ordered to not use their cars one day a week, in an attempt to reduce the current exceptionally high levels of air pollution in the city.
Mexico’s capital is well known for its smog, but levels have increased with the city experiencing the worst air-quality crisis in over a decade.
Authorities issued a temporary order for all cars to remain idle one day a week following a recent Phase 1 emergency announcement due to high ozone levels – the first of its kind since 2005.
Mexico City currently has a “no circulation” rule, meaning if cars are not up to a certain emissions standard owners are restricted to driving in the city on certain days.
Previously some drivers had been exempt from the rules, providing they obtained a sticker from a smog-check centre that certified their vehicles as ‘lower emission’.
However the new temporary measures include all vehicles, even those with an exemption sticker.
Air pollution is the cause of more deaths than unsafe water, an Environmental Performance Index report has found.
The report found that half of the world’s population – three and half billion people – are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution every day by World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
This widespread exposure to air pollution means more people than ever are dying from breathing unsafe air, with one in 10 deaths globally due to air pollution.
India’s capital began an experimental scheme, banning cars on alternate days using an “odd-even” rule. Cars with odd number plates could only drive on odd days of the month, while those with even numbers were allowed to drive on even days.
In a country that sees more than 600,000 deaths each year from air pollution, tackling the capital’s pollution problems is vital.
Delhi’s scheme only lasted a week, and was deemed a success by the government, however air-quality data shows that that week was on average 20 to 25% worse than the week before.
The city is looking into other plans for tackling pollution, as well as implementing an awareness campaign.
China also faces problems with air pollution, and Beijing features at the top of the list of China’s most polluted cities.
Following Beijing’s first pollution red alert in 2015, authorities have begun to take steps to tackle the problem.
Authorities are reportedly developing ventilation corridors across the city, connecting parks, rivers, lakes and highways.
This network of corridors will be strictly controlled, with obstacles to air flow being removed over time. The network will consists of five large corridors more than 500m wide, and several smaller ones.
It has also been reported that Beijing will close 2,500 small polluting firms in 2016 as part of efforts to combat pollution.