Prague may restrict diesel cars

The Czech capital is looking to other cities for pollution solutions

Prague is considering several steps to improve air quality including placing restrictions on diesel cars in the city center.

The city would not be the first European city to take such a step. Paris has a low-emission zone that restricts unecological cars and by 2025 will ban all diesel vehicles from the city. Cars must have stickers showing their level of air cleanliness. Currently, only diesel cars registered after 2001 and meeting at least the Euro 3 standard can travel in the Paris zone.

Madrid, Athens and London also have restrictions on diesel cars. In London, drivers whose cars don't meet the Euro 4 emission standard will soon have to pay a £10 fee to drive in the city center.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) wants to take action against the diesel cars. “I'm dissatisfied with the work of city police. I want them and state police to use meters that are available and to begin severely penalize drivers who have removed car filters,” Krnáčová told daily Pražský deník. She would like to people use more public transport and possibly electric cars.

Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD) said that the city is working on a smog reduction plan that will include more steps than just restrictions on diesel cars, but fees for diesel cars entering the city and parking restrictions will be part of the overall program.

Dolínek added that it will take courage on the part of Prague politicians to tell some people that they can't drive everywhere in the city unless they have more efficient vehicles. Many people do not see the need to improve air quality because the situation is not as bad as in some other European cities, he added.

Environmental groups support the idea, but some Prague representatives and the general public still need to be convinced. Opposition politicians say it is wrong to punish people who bought diesel cars with their own money based on the guidelines that existed at the time.

Prague and other parts of the Czech Republic faced smog alerts based on poor air quality during the winter due to inversion that trapped particles from vehicles and industry close to the surface. Prague urged people to use public transportation instead of driving, but as it was not a strict requirement few people obeyed. The city also considered making public transportation free, but the situation improved before it could be implemented. In certain conditions, some industries that cause high emissions can be shut down temporarily under the existing anti-smog laws.

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