Cancelling the ban on movement of vehicles with diesel engines in Attica and Thessaloniki has stirred the car market, which has been "frozen" for months.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change responded to the first reactions on the issue by promising to introduce additional measures to reduce emissions of harmful gases and micro particles, and make a "green ring" in the capital.
The change is very important for company cars, which travel thousands of miles annually. In private cars, it will affect only a small number of vehicles of great weight and engine capacity, and of course, those travelling over 20 thousand miles per year.
Now, the question is, as market players and environmental organizations stress, to strengthen the control of exhaust gases so as not to register an increase in the emission of micro particles, which has been registered in taxis and buses.
The new legal framework
In particular, the amendment, voted two days ago by Parliament, introduces immediate lifting of the ban on movement of vehicles with diesel engines in Athens and Thessaloniki.
The Ministry of Environment stated that the decision is based on documented research and is taken in favour of public interest and actual environmental protection. Additional measures discussed with other ministries include enhanced quality control of fuels, introduction of an electronic system for tracking the movement of fuel to fight smuggling and adding impurities in the fuel and limitation on the movement of the most polluting vehicles.
Within this framework, a project is being prepared for a common ministerial decision on the conversion of the existing small zone with "even-odd numbers" in a "green zone" with the following characteristics:
For vehicles under 2.2 tons:
Α. Free movement of all vehicles with "even-odd numbers" within the small zone provided that they are equipped with Euro V technology or later and that their emissions of carbon dioxide are less than 140 g/km. This also applies to electric and hybrid vehicles.
B. Movement within the area of vehicles first registered before 1990 only on the days and during the hours when the restrictions of the "even-odd numbers" area do not apply.
- Ban on movement of trucks over 2.2 tons to 12 tons, with date of first registration before 01. 01. 1992, in the large zone with "even-odd numbers."
- Ban on movement of trucks over 12 tons with date of first registration before 01. 01. 1992 in Attica, with the exception of Athens-Lamia and Athens-Corinth highways, the highways crossing Attica and the main access roads to the ports of Piraeus, Lavrio, Rafina and Elefsina.
Cars that are allowed to move freely will receive a special green sticker. It is proposed that the rules be enforced on 1 May 2012.
Spyros Kouvelis, PASOK Member of Parliament, in a communication described the act of the outgoing minister to lift the ban on movement of vehicles with diesel engines as unacceptable.
WWF Hellas urged the new government to immediately repeal these amendments, declaring the decision "anti-scientific."
Background and comparison with Europe
The measure, banning the movement of vehicles with diesel engines in Attica and Thessaloniki, was imposed in 1991 by law and therefore, a law is again necessary for its cancellation. Recently, it became clear that the Minister of Environment is willing to introduce a "green zone" in Athens first and then, to allow the movement of diesel engines in both cities.
George Papakonstantinou seemed determined to lift the ban soon after taking over the Ministry of Environment, as Greece is the only country in the European Union, where there is a ban on the movement of vehicles with diesel engines.
It should be noted that about 100,000 vehicles with a diesel engine with new and old technology are circulating today in Greece (with the exception of the two major cities). The country is the only Member State of the European Union, which has banned the movement of vehicles with diesel engines in Athens and Thessaloniki, while about 51% of the cars registered in the European Union use this type of engine.
To the reaction against the repeal of the ban on illegal trade in fuels, the Minister responded by equalizing the excise duty on heating and motor diesel.
However, the President of the Association of Automobile Importers George Vassilakis said that lifting the ban on movement of diesel cars is of no great use when buying a car.