Car bans don’t solve air pollution for everyone

In recent years, our awareness of the impact of carbon emissions has skyrocketed. In response, many cities are trying to reduce the use of cars (especially ICEs) in inner-city areas in favor of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

But does such an approach really make a difference to air pollution levels? Let’s see:

What’s the problem with cars?

You probably know the stats, but let’s take a quick refresher.

According to joint research from Harvard University and several British universities, more than 8 million people died in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution.

In fact, the researchers estimate that exposure to particulates from fossil fuel emissions accounted for 18% of total global deaths in 2018 — just under one in five.

However, not all emissions come from cars. Industrial production, oil refineries, natural events such as weather, dust storms, wildfires and agricultural activities all contribute to pollution levels.

But 2020 research found that: 41% of global transportation emissions are from ICE (gas) cars. The older the car, the worse the pollution.

But things are not so simple.

EVs are not innocent

It’s not just ICE exhaust that’s to blame. In reality, 55% of road traffic pollution comes from non-exhaust particles from both types of cars. Of this, about 20% comes from brake dust, which, if inhaled, can cause: significant respiratory problems

So it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of pressure to get cars (and trucks, as much as is practical) all the way out of busy inner-city areas.

What are some initiatives?