The Jerusalem Municipality is to ban the entry of polluting, diesel-run vehicles into the city center, following the lead of the northern coastal city of Haifa.
In July, owners of such vehicles will be informed about the policy, and it will go into effect in January 2019, with violators to be fined.
Polluting vehicles — defined as those produced before 2005 which weigh more than 3.5 tons (3,175 kilograms) and have diesel engines — largish trucks — will be monitored by cameras and by a computerized system which uses registration plates to create vehicle IDs.
Commercial diesel-run vehicles fitted with special pollution-reducing particle filters will not be affected by the new regulations, nor will private diesel cars, at least in the initial roll-out of the plan.
Polluting public transportation vehicles will be allowed to operate for a further six months, until July 2019, at the request of the Transportation Ministry.
Jerusalem’s reduced emissions area will be bordered by Haneviim Street to the north, Strauss Street and King George Street to the west, Agron Street to the south and Heil Hahandasa Street to the east.
Six months after the ban is implemented there, it will be extended to the nearby ultra-Orthodox business district to the north of the initial area.
Haifa approved a reduced pollution zone at the beginning of 2017 and the Ministry of Environmental Protection is eager to implement it in central Tel Aviv too, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.
Israeli cities are following Europe’s lead. Copenhagen has enacted a ban on diesel cars to start from 2019, while Oxford in the UK has proposed a ban on all vehicles other than electric ones from its central zone from 2020, the Independent newspaper reported. Paris, too, wants all gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles out from 2030.
Diesel, touted as recently as seven years ago as an efficient, cost-effective and low carbon-dioxide polluting material, was labeled a carcinogenic in the category of asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas by the World Health Organization in June, Reuters reported.
In a 2016 report on air quality in Europe, the European Environment Agency estimated that 71,000 people across Europe died prematurely in 2013 because of exposure to nitrogen dioxide which enters the air mainly from the burning of fuel.
Diesel engines produce higher emissions of the gas than gasoline ones.