Medellin‘s “Air Pact” to improve the air quality of one of Colombia’s most polluted cities is too superficial to make a difference, local environmentalists said Tuesday.
The Air Pact was presented by Mayor Federico Gutierrez as the city’s response to excessive pollution levels that have alarmed health experts and local authorities.
Sixty-six public and private entities signed the pact and committed to lowering carbon emissions in Medellin and the surrounding Aburra Valley.
However, 69% of these commitments will have a “very low” impact and 71% of the measures are “unverifiable,” local environmentalists said in a statement.
Low Carbon City, Air Medellin, More Urban and Citizens for Air and Green City said they have been excluded from the covenant and called for a effective measures to curb pollution.
“It will be necessary to make a thorough review of each of the commitments and in most cases reformulate them, so that they become verifiable commitments and their impact is as high as possible,” said the groups in a joint statement.
The corporations and government bodies that signed the Air Pact “committed themselves to promote the formulation of a State policy for the prevention and control of atmospheric contamination.”
But according to the environmental organizations that studied the new initiative, the pact is mere lip service on behalf of authorities.
The groups’ analysis evaluated the expected impact of each of the 424 commitments only to find that the majority of elements in the plan can not be verified or will fail to have much of an impact on the alarming increase in carbon gas emissions.
The air quality in Medellin has been a problem ever since the popularization of cars. Because the city lies in a valley, exhaust fumes are not blown away, but accumulate in the valley.
In addition, the city frequently suffers due to extreme heat caused by weather phenomenon El Niño that prevents polluted air being blown away, but also pushes contaminated air down into the valley, posing a risk to the health of the paisas, as the locals are called.
On top of that, a large number of public road and water supply works carried out are causing traffic jams that force motorized commuters to spend longer time in traffic than usual.
Eight Medellin residents are estimated to die from pollution-related diseases every single day.