The statistics are crystal clear, leaving no room for any doubt. Vehicles that run on fossil fuels are the biggest source of pollution in our cities. What can we do as citizens though?
AMB (Área Metropolitana de Barcelona) is the Greater Barcelona public municipal body in charge of safeguarding the wellbeing of its citizens. It has embarked on an ambitious public communication campaign to make people who live there aware of the real scope of the problem. With this aim in mind, it has launched the www.canvidhabits.com website, which acts as a central source of information including articles, interviews with experts, measurement instruments and real studies conducted in the city of Barcelona. This makes it a fundamental tool in raising people’s awareness of the need to make certain changes in day-to-day travel.
We begin our review of the website by looking at the videos of interviews with experts and testimonials by electric vehicle users, found in the section entitled ‘Change’. One example is a conversation with researcher into environmental epidemiology, Jordi Sunyer. This offers very convincing data: “30% of all strokes, 20% of all heart attacks and 30% of lung cancer are caused by pollution from exhaust pipes.” Jordi Sunyer and his team are known internationally, particularly for their precise studies on how this pollution affects children. “Children’s brains do not all develop at the same speed, depending on the level of pollution in their school’s local environment,” Sunyer states with the categorical assurance and support of data from his study, one considered to be the world’s most prestigious analysis of the impact of pollution near schools.
Xavier Querol is another researcher from the Spanish National Research Council (the CSIC according to its acronym in Spanish). He states: “Pollution in the form of particles in suspension reduces an average person’s life by nine months.” For his part, Barcelona taxi driver Francisco Guerrero claims that he has reduced expenditure on fuel by 300 euros a month thanks to his fully electric car and he urges everyone to make the change.
We would like to conclude our review of these videos with one which features one of the foremost ambassadors of electric vehicles in Catalonia, the famous Catalan weather man Francesc Mauri: “I test drove an electric car for a few days and fell in love with them. To put it another way, I saw the light.”
Another feature of the website that we would like to highlight is its pollution calculator. You can enter any journey and type of vehicle to be used in it and the calculator will show you how much pollution you will produce. It also comes up with an alternative route between both points that involves less pollution. It is a very quick, practical way of cutting down emissions slightly on day-to-day journeys.
We would like to end with a few figures to take into consideration: 34% of all everyday journeys that are made in Barcelona are for work purposes and of these, 49% are made by car, while only 5 trams or 8 buses are needed to carry 1,000 people from one place to another. These figures make you wonder to what extent the means of transport that we use are the only possibility, or could we seek eco-friendlier forms of mobility?
One day we will very probably look back on the present and wonder why we put up with all the pollution that traffic causes. It is up to us, though, to make sure that this change in our habits is a swift one, making the move in the very near future. Indeed, it is as important as the air we breathe.