The “competition” of Skopje and the other cities in North Macedonia in breaking the world records for air pollution has commenced. While the data from “Iqair” indicates that Skopje is at the top of the world list of air pollution, together with the Asian cities New Delhi, Hanoi, Lahore or Calcutta, but also some cities in the Balkans such as Sarajevo and Belgrade, latest statistics show that Macedonia is breaking historic records in the consumption of diesel fuel in road transportation.
The diesel fuel consumption in road transportation in 2021 went up to 597,256 tons, which is apparently the largest number surpassing the previous record from 2018, when the vehicles in the country managed to consume approximately 584,300 tons of diesel fuel. According to the data of the State Statistical Office (SSO), last year the vehicles used up 89,323 tons of gasoline, while the consumption of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in road transportation reached 50,611 tons.
The analysis of the data from 2006 up to date points out that regardless of all the directives and restrictions imposed by the EU to its member-states, the consumption of diesel fuel in road transportation in Macedonia has increased over three times, despite the fact that diesel is a great air pollutant. At the same time, the consumption of gasoline by road transportation has decreased by approximately 10 percent, while the use of gas – after the record increase in 2018 – for second year in a row is decreasing.
For quite some time now, Meta.mk has been writing about the fact that the number of vehicles registered in the country is steadily growing. Most of them are used cars imported from abroad with motors meeting lower EURO standards for exhaust gas emissions. At the same time, the average age of the vehicles is constantly growing, hence the vehicles on the roads in North Macedonia last year were 19,5 years old on average.
We drive junk – average use of cars and buses has risen to 19,5 years
On several occasions we reported about the need to prohibit the import of used cars below EURO 5 standards of exhaust gas emissions, as well as about the environmental stickers promised four years ago but never introduced up to now.
At the beginning of November, we requested information from the Ministry of Economy asking when the Government can be expected to adopt a decision on stricter criteria on used car imports and the date when such a prohibition would go into force for vehicles below EURO 5 standards. Meta.mk however, has not received answers to these questions.
The last information of the Government of the RNM and the Ministry of Economy to Meta.mk was last summer, thereby explaining that the Macedonian public will be informed in due time when the executive government will adopt the prohibition therein along with the date when it will be enforced.
As a reminder, more than a year and a half went by since last January when the Minister of Economy, Kresnik Bektesi, promised to prohibit imports of used cars produced prior to 2011.
Although promised to enforce it in 2021, a whole year has gone by, and the prohibition was postponed for 2022. This year however, the governmental promise to prohibit imports of vehicles below EURO 5 standards has still not been implemented.
Research for the project “Dealing with Air Pollution in the City of Skopje” – implemented from October 2020 to December 2021 – determined that the biomass i.e., wood-heating is the most significant source of air pollution in Skopje during the winter months. That said, however, the traffic and industry as well as oil and fuel burning are sources of pollution throughout the whole year. Subsequently, the research determined that traffic was the second most significant source of air pollution at the measuring point in the settlement Novo Lisiche, and in Karposh, transportation accounts for less in air pollution.