Iran’s government steps up efforts to tackle pollution
This winter, as the smoke of around 4.2 million car exhausts settled over the city, pension-age Ali wheeled his pushcart onto a congested roundabout in south Tehran’s Shoosh Square and pulled a blackened surgical mask over his face. Braving the endless roar of aging engines, he stood all day inside a dense fog of cancer-causing toxins that blocked out the sun, stung his eyes and clogged his airways. By noontime, he developed a headache. On particularly smoggy days, he vomited.
Iranian lawmakers have also been inconsistent in enforcing clean air acts and low industry standards. “Heavy energy subsidies…have contributed to inordinately high fuel use, and consequently higher levels of pollution from fuel emissions,” says David Michel, director of environmental security at the Washington, DC-based Stimson Center. The growth in fuel consumption, which at its peak reached five times the global average, was partially stymied by the subsidy reforms introduced by Ahmadinejad in 2010, but the progress stopped two years later, when the reform scheme was halted due to inflation and other economic concerns.
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