The CityAir Project, Improving Air Quality and Raising Public Awareness in Cities Project implemented by the T.R Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, discussed the effects of transportation on air quality during the special session of “Zero Emission for All” with the participants from municipalities of 81 provinces.
In the session held within the framework of the European Mobility Week activities, it was emphasized that it would be possible to increase the quality of life in cities if alternative sustainable urban transportation modes such as public transportation, walking, and cycling are supported.
Today, air quality protection is one of the most important environmental issues related to human health. 9 out of every 10 people in the world breathe polluted air, and 8 million people per year are affected by diseases caused by air pollution. Transport-related emission pollution is one of the most important factors that negatively affect air quality.
For this reason, the topic of this year’s European Mobility Week, which is held every year in September, is determined “Zero Emissions for All”. During the week, which encourages cities and municipalities to take sustainable transportation measures, awareness studies were carried out to improve the transportation planning and public transportation system of the municipalities, and increase the number of bicycle roads and walkways, as well as encourage citizens to use alternative transportation methods instead of individual vehicles.
Indeed, according to the Turkey Statistical Institute (TSI) data, the number of vehicles, 8.6 million in 2002, exceeded 23 million as of July 2020. This increase in the number of motor vehicles in recent years has also increased the pollution rates caused by transportation in cities. Old vehicles consume more fuel, which increases their pollutant emission accordingly. In Turkey, the ratio of 0-5-year-old vehicles is 33.4 percent, vehicles between the ages of 6-10 are 21.7 percent, while the ratio of vehicles over 10 years old is 44.9 percent.
One of the works carried out within the scope of the European Mobility Week is the “Special Session on Zero Emission for All” that was organized jointly by the Turkish Association of Municipalities and the CityAir Project, Improving Air Quality and Raising Public Awareness in Cities Project implemented by the T.R Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. Municipality representatives attending the session discussed the action plans to be prepared to eliminate air pollution caused by transportation, and good examples implemented by different municipalities.
Göktuğ Kara: “Local and central administrations need to act together”
Delegation of European Union to Turkey Sector Manager Göktuğ Kara stated that 551 municipalities from Turkey have registered for this year’s European Mobility Week and continued his speech as follows; “We observed the positive effect of the decrease in the number of vehicles on the air quality during the three-month closure period in the pandemic. The fact that 551 municipalities registered to participate in the European Mobility Week activities was the best indicator of how much the subject is embraced. Turkey is a developing country. As income increases, more movement is required. The source of 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions is transportation currently, and cities are responsible for 70 percent of this. The increasing need for mobility in the current conjuncture will increase the emission from transportation in cities. The real challenge is how we can bring this rate down in 2050. For this reason, solutions to encourage preferring walking and cycling for short distances should be suggested. Integration between the necessary infrastructure and transport types for zero-emission mobility should be completed. Intelligent transport systems will also play an important role. For this, local authorities and central administrations should come together and produce standard sustainable mobility plans that will meet novel needs.
İsmail Raci Bayer: “We have contracted with 41 projects within the framework of the EU Environment and Climate Program“
Dr. İsmail Raci Bayer, Director of the EU Financial Assistance Department, General Directorate of European Union and Foreign Relations, T.R Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, stated that they are carrying out the “Environment and Climate Action Sector Operational Program” with a budget of 335 million Euros with the EU Pre-Accession Financial Assistance Funds (IPA). He continued as follows, “In this context, with almost half of 335 million Euros allocated to our country, 41 contracted projects are financed. CityAir is one of these projects implemented in this context. The most distinctive difference of the CityAir is that it also has a social awareness pillar. If we succeed in raising this awareness, each citizen can contribute to the improvement of air quality individually”.
Nazan Özyürek: “15 percent of pollution in cities is caused by transportation”
Summarizing the works conducted within the scope of the CityAir project, Nazan Özyürek, Head of Air Management Department of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, said that their primary goal is to identify all sources causing air pollution. Özyürek continued her speech as follows; “Transportation is among the most important pollutants along with industry and domestic heating. 15 percent of the pollution in cities is caused by road vehicles as our cities have high vehicle density. We are doing a series of studies to adapt our cities to alternative ways of transport such as bicycles, scooters and walking. Our goal is to complete the legal regulations by the end of the year, to create a 6835-kilometer bicycle route and to offer it as four separate routes.”
Nilüfer Sivrikaya: “We need to make bicycle a means of transportation, not a hobby”
Nilüfer Sarıkaya, Director of Foreign Affairs at Union of Municipalities of Turkey, emphasized the necessity of making the bicycle a means of transportation, not a hobby. Sivrikaya said, “As Turkish Association of Municipalities, our efforts to encourage municipalities have brought results. While around 20 municipalities applied for the European Mobility Week in 2018, 551 municipalities applied this year. The highest number of applications to the events was from Spain, with over 600 municipalities. However, there are over 8 thousand municipalities in Spain while 1389 municipalities in Turkey. When we compare, it is pleasing to see that Turkey has the highest application rate. This proves how much we embrace the matter”.