Covid-19 has wreaked havoc with the global economy, and while reducing GDP, has also reduced air pollution. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has estimated that nitrogen dioxide levels across 12 big cities globally fell 27% ten days after their national governments issued lockdown orders. But, as businesses ramp back up, NO2 and particulate matter emissions have returned to pre-pandemic levels.
In the UK, the impact of the pandemic has led to several cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds postponing the introduction of Clean Air Zones. It will be interesting to see how policy makers react to a changing world.
I think it’s fair to say that having experienced unusually clean air for a long period, people will notice the decline in quality and easily see the link to increasing traffic levels, particularly commercial vehicles, which despite much lower numbers have visually a greater street presence than passenger cars.
It is incumbent on us as an industry to demonstrate that we take this issue seriously. Manufacturers are investing billions in technologies to reduce or eliminate tailpipe emissions. Regardless of what happens with CAZ implementations, we must continue the great work we’ve done so far.