Bucharest City Council passes ban on polluting cars entering the city

Bucharest, the Capitol of Romania, has passed a special tax, the Oxygen Vignette, aimed at cars not meeting the Euro 5 standard. Cars not meeting the Euro 3 standard will be completely banned from entering an area designated as Action Zone for Air Quality (ZACA) in the center of Bucharest, while Euro 3 and Euro 4 cars will be required to pay a RON 5 (a bit over $1) fee per day. In the rest of Bucharest, non-Euro, Euro 1 and Euro 2 cars will be required to pay a RON 15 (about $4) fee.

Obviously this is meant to discourage polluting cars from entering the center of Bucharest. The Wikipedia has a useful page describing what the Euro 1/2/3/etc ratings mean. This is the chart for passenger cars:

European Emissions Standards for passenger cars – Source: Wikipedia

As you go higher up the scale of Euro 1/2/3/4/5/6 the allowed emissions decrease.

This chart demonstrates, for example, the importance of having prosecuted the Volkswagen Group for fraud over the Dieselgate scandal. Volkswagen claimed that several models had cleaner emissions than was actually the case, and therefore the cars received a higher Euro 1/2/3/4/5/6 ranking. Hence, under a regulation like what Bucharest has enacted, a car owner could conceivably drive into the center of Bucharest without paying any fee, but it would be incorrect since an objective evaluation of the car would have given it a lower Euro emissions ranking.

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Bucharest is also increasing the number of electric buses in its transit system, and upgrading the electric streetcar fleet (most of which is left over from Communist times).

Having spent many months in Bucharest, I can attest to it having high air pollution. In June, Renault pulled a publicity stunt of offering discounts on the Renault Zoe calculated on how bad air pollution was at any given time. In that article I noted having visited Bucharest last Winter, and using a hand-held air quality monitor got this reading in an area on the outskirts of Bucharest:

This portable air quality monitor shows that Bucharest air quality, measured in December 2018 at the center of a very busy intersection, borders on the unhealthy range.

That’s bordering on air which is downright unhealthy.

Quoted by an article about this plan on Romania-Insider, Bucharest’s Mayor Gabriela Firea said “Bucharest is sixth in the ranking of the most polluted cities in Europe and fourth in the ranking of the most polluted cities in Romania (after Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, and Brasov), which is why concrete measures for improving air quality are needed.”

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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