City of Jerusalem and Environment Ministry launch low emissions zone
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City of Jerusalem and Environment Ministry launch low emissions zone

Scheme starts by banning big, old diesel-driven vehicles from city center; is set to expand to entire municipal area in July. Similar project in northern Haifa cut soot by 20%

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Egged's new electric buses at their charging station in Jerusalem during the launching ceremony, on September 3, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Egged's new electric buses at their charging station in Jerusalem during the launching ceremony, on September 3, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Environmental Protection Ministry and Jerusalem Municipality on Sunday launched a plan to reduce vehicle emissions in the capital, following the success of a similar project in the northern port city of Haifa which saw a 20 percent reduction in soot in the downtown area by the end of its first year.

The first stage in Jerusalem will see a ban on entrance to the city center by diesel vehicles, weighing over 3.5 tons and manufactured before 2006, unless they are equipped with special filters.

During the second stage, expected to kick off in July, the new rules will be extended throughout the municipal area of Jerusalem.

The project forms part of a wider ministry plan to clean up city air by introducing electric buses and having filters installed on all public transport vehicles defined as polluting.

In Jerusalem, the ministry is spending NIS 24 million ($7 million) — NIS 10 million ($2.9 million) each to help the municipality operate the scheme and to subsidize the cost of filters, and a further NIS 4 million ($1.2 million) to help the Egged bus company acquire 10 electric buses, which have already been operating for several months.

The program will be extended to lighter-polluting vehicles run on diesel, although not to diesel-powered private cars.

Ze’ev Elkin, who is minister for both environmental protection and Jerusalem affairs, said, “Defining a clean air zone has proven itself in the major cities of the Western world and it is time for the residents of Jerusalem and its visitors to breathe cleaner air.”

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