Legambiente’s appeal to the Mayors of Veneto: air quality is not an algorithm

The effects of climate change are becoming more evident and pressing every day on the daily lives of citizens. 2022 was the hottest year with a drought that pushed several territories to the brink of water crisis. Autumn, winter and today confirm this trend with anomalous temperatures, heat, and an atmospheric pressure that shows no signs of decreasing. These combinations are “lethal” in the basin of the Po Valley and significantly aggravate the already dramatic situation of air quality.

VENETO – The Po Valley agreement has already provided for the implementation of some containment measures in the face of the worsening situation which Arpav is repeatedly certifying on a daily basis. The areas with a “red alert” level are already vast, while the “orange alert” level will include practically the entire Veneto plain in the coming days. In this context and in the framework of the updating of the guidelines by the WHO which for some time has been calling for the reduction as soon as possible of the level of air pollution, responsible for over 50,000 premature deaths every year in Italy alone, will be decisive immediately and for the next few years to act for clean air in the Po valley through increasingly effective coordination and involvement of all public and private actors in the area. For this reason it is desirable that action is taken even beyond the agreements, rules or ordinances, involving citizens through courageous political choices, starting with those of Local Administrators.

“To achieve the “clean air” goal – comments the president of Legambiente Veneto Luigi Lazzaro – we certainly need state-regional-municipalities multilevel solutions, but the mayors unquestionably play a decisive role, for this reason we ask them to overcome the logic of controls and derogations without going backwards in the application of union ordinances for air quality, inviting them to systematize the ordinances with the anti-pollution policies starting from the municipal plan for air quality which collects measures and best practices for all the emission sectors present and which is added to the regional, national and European standards”.

Legambiente therefore believes that it is essential to equip itself with planning tools such as Paesc and Pums, to concretely outline school roads, Low Emission Zones and 30 km/h zones, to start decisive investments such as the strengthening of tram transport, the safety of cycle networks , the increase in electric mobility services, sustainable and shared in free-floating mode and useful for setting incentive policies for local public transport and the implementation of infrastructure for electric mobility.

As far as the agricultural sector is concerned – which has a primary responsibility in the winter smog emergency – it is first of all necessary for the Municipalities to equip themselves with a rural police regulation, useful for strengthening and organizing the control system and necessary for encouraging the application of the most advanced technological solutions to reduce emissions in agriculture, starting from the obligation to immediately landfill the sewage deposited in the agricultural field. With regard to heating systems, especially inefficient stoves and open fireplaces, it is important that municipal building regulations prevent them from being built on new builds.

“However, it is also of fundamental importance to act in response to the emergency – concludes Lazarus – for this reason we ask during the orange and red alert periods to suspend any derogation provided for by the ordinances, providing incentives for innovative interventions such as the free urban public transport for all citizens, the application of smart-working for the employees of the Authority and the ecological transition of community recreational events and rural traditions such as “pan e vin”, which we certainly do not want to give up but which, as also hoped for by President Mattarella in his end-of-year speech, must be able to welcome change and “the modernity”. An effort of interpretation on which the Local Administrators of the Veneto, we are sure, will be able to implement their interventions to protect people’s health with innovation and imagination, beyond the mere respect of the rules that we have given ourselves”.

Legambiente’s appeal to the Mayors of Veneto: air quality is not an algorithm – Il Nuovo Terraglio