'Social crisis': Italy delays regional ban on old diesel vehicles

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'Social crisis': Italy delays regional ban on old diesel vehicles
Italy's northern Piedmont regions has long been under pressure from the EU to cut pollution levels in over 70 municipalities. Photo by Jure Makovec / AFP

The Italian government on Thursday postponed a ban on older diesel cars in the Piedmont region of the heavily polluted north, following protests by motorists.


The region of Piedmont had blamed pressure from the European Union for its plans to introduce a daytime, weekday ban on so-called Euro 5 standard vehicles in Turin and more than 70 other municipalities starting on September 15th.

But environment and energy minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin revealed this would be pushed back to October 1st, 2024 and the number of affected areas would be reduced.

READ ALSO: Why Italy is fighting EU plans to limit vehicle emissions

"The government has intervened [...] to avoid a social and economic crisis for families and businesses," he said, while insisting EU commitments on cutting pollution would be met.

Piedmont's regional president, Alberto Cirio, said the region had been "forced" into the ban by a European infringement procedure.

He said the central government decree now allowed them to re-evaluate measures already taken to cut pollution, including boosting energy efficiency and scrapping 700 polluting buses.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy

Further action would be taken to increase the use of public transport and replace the most polluting heating systems, Cirio said, insisting the region remained "fully focused on the protection of the environment and health".

The European Court of Justice ruled in 2020 that Italy had "persistently and systematically" breached EU rules on small-particle air pollution.

Since then, Meloni's nationalist government has led the revolt against EU plans to tighten emissions limits, saying it wants to defend the automotive industry in a country still attached to the combustion engine.


Her hard-right coalition, which came into office last October, tried and failed to block EU plans to ban the sale of new cars running on fossil fuels by 2035.

READ ALSO: Why electric cars aren't more popular in Italy

But in May the government took the fight to planned Euro 7 standards on pollutants, joining forces with seven other EU member states – including France and Poland – to demand Brussels scrap limits due to come into force in July 2025.


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D. Schmudde 2023/09/09 22:37
The air pollution in Turin is so thick on some winter days that you can feel it in your mouth. This is bad news for everyone in the region. Even those who own the most polluting vehicles.

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