Yes we can pollution-proof our city

Dubai ambitiously responds to the urgent crisis of climate change by introducing new environmental policies
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Yes we can pollution-proof our city

It’s no secret that the way we live has a significantly negative impact on the environment, so Grazia is pleased with and proud of Dubai for signing a public pledge to improve the city’s air quality.

The agreement is part of a worldwide initiative – labelled the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration – to tackle the global climate crisis, but for Dubai’s part, the city has set targets to reduce pollution by introducing new environmental policies by 2025 and publicly reporting the progress.Signatories – cities including Amman, London, Berlin, Sydney and Tokyo are among those to sign up – are also promising to move away from vehicles powered by fossil fuels and make cycling, walking and taking public transport easier.

With this in mind, Dubai’s high number of cars on the road is one of the factors believed to be behind its position as a heavily polluted city.Poor air quality can lead to lung disease, and this is estimated to be responsible for 4.2 million deaths globally each year. In a recent report published by Greenpeace, Dubai was listed as the third most-polluted Middle Eastern city. Its research found that Dubai’s levels of PM2.5 – airborne particles of a diameter less than 2.5μm – exceeded World Health Organisation recommendations by more than five times. Abdulla Al Basti, Secretary General of the Dubai Executive Council, insists, “Improving air quality is at the top of our local environmental heath priorities.”

Cities such as London, Stockholm and Milan have implemented congestion charges to deter motorists from driving in central areas during peak times, and while Dubai currently operates tolls on highways, it’s not looking at introducing further fees. Instead, flexible working hours, which would reduce pollution spikes caused by rush-hour traffic, are being considered, along with building more shaded areas along walkways to encourage residents to walk and cycle. A study is currently underway by the Dubai authorities, and its results and policy details are due to be unveiled next year.

Existing policies already being put into practice in Dubai include the adoption of hybrid and electric taxis, use of energy efficient street lights and the introduction of new eco-friendly buses. We can’t change the world today, but we can change our habits.

Additional reporting: Aoibhinn Mc Bride

Photos: Unsplash