(1) MEXICO CITY S 10 YEAR PLAN FOR IMPROVING AIR QUALITY

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1 (1) MEXICO CITY S 10 YEAR PLAN FOR IMPROVING AIR QUALITY Gloria Soto Secretariat of Environment Government of Mexico City April (2) The Federal District is the political, historical, economic and cultural centre of the Mexican United States. The 16 local delegations together with 34 urban municipalities of the State of Mexico as a whole form the core metropolis of Mexican United States. Mexico City houses 17 million inhabitants, whom produce the third part of the Country s Internal Gross Product, demand 65 cubic meters of water per second and generate almost 21.2 million tons of solid wastes daily. There are 3 500,000 vehicles circulating which consume 18 million litres of gasoline and 5 million of diesel, producing 4 million tons of atmospheric pollutants annually. (3) The Federal District is located at 2,240 meters over the sea level, which causes that the oxygen contents in air be 23% less. This reduces the efficiency of the internal combustion process of vehicles, industries and services, and generates higher amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere. To the above situation it must be added that the Mexico City Metropolitan Area is surrounded by different mountains, which function as a physical natural barrier for wind fluent circulation; also, the presence of high pressure systems bring about atmospheric stability that inhibits strong winds and makes difficult gases and particulate matter dispersion. (4) The last inventory of emissions (1996) demonstrated that mobile sources are responsible for the generation of more than 80% of atmospheric contaminants. This sector generates almost 50% of the ozone precursors and some 98% of carbon monoxide. Industry together with the two thermoelectrical plants which operate in the City, generate 13% of ozone precursors and natural sources are responsible for 54% of emissions from particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter (5) Implementation of the Air Quality Automatic Monitoring Network RAMA ( ) Industrial activity combined with accelerated population growth generated a reduction in the range of visibility, which brought about the operation of the Pan 1

2 American Network of standardised sampling started in 1967, being used as the basis for improved monitoring systems. Currently, the Network for Automatic Atmospheric Monitoring (RAMA) is comprised of 37 stations. With an accuracy rate of more than 90%, this monitoring network verifies the concentration of nitrogen oxides, the total amount of suspended particles, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, lead, ozone and UV radiation. (6) PICCA and PROAIRE In the decade of the 1990 s two comprehensive Programmes were designed to combat air contamination: the Integral Programme Against Atmospheric Contamination (PICCA) and the Programme to Improve Air Quality in the Valley of Mexico, (PROAIRE). Both have, as common proposal technological measures applicable in four major areas: transport, industry, combustible fuels, and service establishments. In addition, both Programmes have included measures dealing with reforestation, environmental education and civil society participation as fundamental elements of environmental recovery of the City. (7) Institutions In 1992, the Metropolitan Commission for Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution in the Valley of Mexico was created, which included a variety of federal offices. In 1996, the Commission was modified and the Metropolitan Environmental Commission (MEC) was created. It includes membership of two federal offices, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (MENRF) through the National Institute of Ecology (NIE), the Government of the Federal District, the Government of the State of Mexico, and other members. (8) Combustible fuels and Use of Catalytic Converter The fuels used in Mexico City have been under continuous progresses, including oxygenation of gasoline to improve combustion, elimination of lead, the use of a catalytic converter. Usage of catalytic converter began twenty years after it was introduced in the United States of America. Its use was made possible thanks to the homologation of Mexican automotive standards with those of the United States and the supply of unleaded gasoline in Mexico City. Currently, almost 50% of the cars in operation in the city have this type of equipment. (9) Vehicular Verification The Programme of Vehicular Verification has been continuous improvement. In its present form, vehicular verification operates in a decentralised manner by 2

3 employing five gases analysers together with a chassis set to a dynamometer, where an evaluation comparable to that used in the state of California. Regulated gases are hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen. In addition, for the past two years levels of nitrogen oxide have been measured and will be regulated from 1999 onwards. (10) Alternative Fuels In this sector, there has been promotion of fuels with a cleaner combustion processes. Currently approximately 35,000 vehicles use liquefied petroleum gas. The Programme for the use of compressed natural gas was inaugurated with a fleet of 1,100 units. Similarly, there is a Programme prohibiting the use of industrial fuels with sulphur contents of more than 2%. Alternatively, diesel, fuel-oil or natural gas are now used by industry. (11) Vapour recovery programme The programme to install vapour recovery system in service stations aims to reduce and control the emissions of volatile hydrocarbons generated during the storage, distribution and tank refill of gasoline. All the 295 service station of the Metropolitan Area are now concluding the installation of the system. (12) Expansion of the electric transport system Regarding the electric transport, efforts have been made to broaden and improve this service with the purpose to dissuade the use of private cars. In this context, the Collective Metro Transportation System operates with nine lines and its longitude is 178 kilometres. Another line is under construction that will join the State of Mexico to the Federal District, having, therefore, a metropolitan scope. This extension of Metro transportation is foreseen to be 200 kilometres in length. Moreover, two light train routes have been created and trolley buses have been acquired. Trolley buses are favoured for their use of electric energy for locomotion and their almost non existent generation of pollution. It is important to mention that non-electric surface transportation is the area most lagging behind from an environmental standpoint, since it is comprised by vehicles lacking emissions controls and disordered operation. EVOLUTION OF POLLUTANTS (13) Lead Since 1993 the air quality standard for lead did not surpass the accepted baseline in any part of the city. This pollutant has practically been eliminated in the 3

4 atmosphere given the 92% reduction of the content in gasoline since 1989 and because of its discontinuation from the market in September (14) Impact on health As a consequence of these actions, the levels of lead in the blood of the inhabitants of Mexico City are substantially lower than the maximum permissible levels set out by official health standards. (15) Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides Carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides have ceased to be an environmental problem in Mexico City, because they almost never surpass the official standards set out for air quality. (16) Ozone Ozone continues to be the principal pollutant in Mexico City. Notwithstanding, the historical trend has been a reduction in the recorded maximum levels of ozone present in the city as well as a decrease in days of environmental contingency, ozone still remains above the standard baseline established for air quality. However in 1999 the ozone levels were into the norm for 65 days, the maximum number of days in the decade. (17) Particles Smaller than 10 Microns in Diameter Particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter is the second environmental problem in Mexico City. This pollutant frequently surpasses official standard levels; although maximum concentrations are localised in zones with an underdeveloped road infrastructure and zones with high levels of deforestation. In 1998, big forest fires were present all over the country. All the way from the south-east, smokes were dragged, complicating the problem of particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter in Mexico City. Since January 1 to June 15, 1998, there were 117 days with concentrations above the standard norm. During 1999 there were only 16 days above the standard norm over the same time period. (18) Number of Days above the Standard Norm This table illustrates the number of days when pollutants have surpassed concentrations in the atmosphere established as norms to protect a human health. ozone which has surpassed the standard norm in more than 80% of the days of the year and carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide have ceased to be an environmental concern. 4

5 (19) Environmental Contingencies During the present administration, the criteria for application of environmental contingencies was modified. This modification responds to medical evidence derived from associated symptoms related to concentrations of ozone and suspended particles. Environmental contingencies are applied when the concentration of ozone surpasses 241 IMECA points or when levels of particles reach above 174 points. A combination of both pollutants sparks the application of a contingency plan. This situation occurs when these pollutants surpass 180 and 150 IMECA points of ozone and particles, respectively. During 1999 we had only 3 environmental contingencies, and they lasted for 5 days in total. (20) Days of Contingency If the new environmental contingency criteria had been applied in 1992, 50% of the days of the year and 29 continuous days in the months of May and June would have been days of contingency. The following graphics illustrate how environmental contingencies have been reduced year by year. (21) Proaire s results According to quantitative results of the Programme to Improve Air Quality in the Valley of Mexico City, the frequency of IMECA levels shows that in 1995, 46 days were above 189 point, while in 1998 they were only 40 days with 179 point. These results show that not only that IMECA average was reduced but also the number of days, moving the IMECA distribution to the left as was prevented in the Programme. With all this data we can now ensure that 1999 was the cleanest year of the decade. (22) During the last years the economic and population growth has expanded the urban area, increased the number of vehicles, enlarged the distances to run and created traffic problems, all of which have negatively impacted the air quality. (23) Automobiles and consumption combustible fuels The amount of gasoline required for the daily movement of 3.5 million automobiles is some 110,000 barrels, which represents 69% of the metropolitan consumption of petroleum-based products, and 22% of the total daily gasoline consumption in the country. For the next decade it is estimated that will be added to the currently circulating. (24) This vehicular fleet will demand about additional 7.5 million litres of fuels, which will increase the consumption of gasoline to 24.5 million litres in Mexico City. 5

6 (25) Objective of the next air quality programme The Air Quality Programme for the Decade needs to contain economic instruments, norms and technological measures, a reordering of the urban and transportation structures, among others. Also, there is a need to continue environmental research to improve the awareness of the environmental problems of Mexico City. (26) Considering the programme to be developed for the medium term, and considering the reduction achieved through the implementation of the PROAIRE Programme, it is feasible to reduce at least 25 IMECA points annually. (27) Moreover, the target for year 2010 should be to reduce the peaks in ozone pollution below 240 IMECA points, which would eliminate the need for emergency days of contingency. It is evident that this target, added to the goal that seeks to avoid health complications for the inhabitants, may have a social and economic impact in the sense that the negative repercussions presently at work in the city will be reduced substantially. (28) Emissions inventory An adaptation in the inventory of emissions needs to be made in order to improve scientific knowledge within Mexico City to facilitate the decision-making process. It is fundamentally important to improve the estimates for biogenic emissions, as well as a deepening of the inventory to specifically look at the morphology and chemical composition of particulate matter (PM10). In addition, there is a need to develop emission factors particular to this city, which is located 2,240 meters above sea level, using a digitalized and time-season adapted inventory through a geographic information system. (29) Modeling A fundamental tool of the new programme should be the exercise of modelling and forecasting environmental trends supported by meteorological elements. The models to be used in Mexico City will need to have an immediate operation capacity, to be flexible, to be user-friendly, and to provide the public with free access to data base information as part of the strategy of the model. (30) Fuels In the field of gasoline reformulation, there is still much to be achieved, for example, a reduction of sulphur content in gasoline. A reduction in the sulphur content in gasoline, and in diesel is an important goal to achieve. 6

7 (31) Industries and Services Natural gas is used by approximately 350 industries located in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. Notwithstanding, it is necessary that the use of this fuel be extended to at least 20,000 industries and service establishments. It is important to mention that there is an agreement with the private sector whereby natural gas technology will be installed for at least 300,000 more users in the next five years. (32) Modernisation of thermoelectric plants The Mexico City Metropolitan Area houses two thermoelectric plants, where a large portion of nitrogen oxides are emitted. It is recommended that there is a modernisation of its productive processes, as well as installation of anti-pollutant devices such as low nitrogen oxide emission burners. Taking into consideration the future increase in demand for energy by the Mexico City Metropolitan Area, an assessment will be made to determine whether the thermoelectric plants can be closed down. (33) Alternative technologies for vehicles While alternative technologies for vehicles are present in the city, it is equally important to establish conditions that facilitate the consolidation process of use of these technologies. Currently, the consumption of liquefied petroleum and natural gas fuels is found in more than 35,000 vehicles of intensive use. It goes without saying that to curb the spread of ozone in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area there would need to be an increase in use of these vehicles by 1,000 %. There are furthermore, technological alternatives which could be used on the medium and long term, such as hybrid and fuel cells vehicles. (34) Emission standards for vehicles They were already harmonised with American standards in But in the last few years, the Mexican standards were not updated, which gave place to a retrocess in respect with the neighbour country. Besides, 4 of 5 main car-makers in Mexico did alter some of the specifications of cars sold in our country. At present, there are continued efforts to harmonise standards, however, the Mexican standards present an important difference in comparison to those in the United States. Although, vehicular emission standards are the same for both 7

8 countries, in the USA the standards are in force after 50,000 miles while in Mexico they are in force at zero miles, that is to say that degradation elements of car motors are not considered. (35) To establish vehicular restricted areas (36) To promote the replacement of 12,000 buses by 28,000 minibuses and 6,000 short buses. From 1983 to 1986 almost 59% of the population used buses as their main mode of public transport. In 1989 this percentage dropped to 22 %, and by 1992 it was reduced further to 11 %. Microbuses or the so-called combis have replaced 60% of normal buses. The Metro, which originally covered 25% of transport needs, now only covers 17% of the total demand. This trend should be reverted, through replacement of minibuses and combis by articulated buses with high efficiency and quality. (37) Expansion of the Metro Network to transport more than 5 million people daily and give it a metropolitan vision. (38) Increase the relationship between inhabitant and green areas Important issues to be developed in the area of natural resources are as follows: in addressing reforestation in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area there should be a gradual increase of green spaces to 12 square meters per capita. To achieve this, survival of at least 80% of seedlings should be ensured, as well as to protect against the loss of ecological reserves. (39) Urbanisation of the City Urbanisation of the city and its relationship with the environment is another area for consideration. This metropolis should curb its expansion and should initiate vertical growth that nurtures and balances enjoyment of the space we share. Also, in conjunction with federal authorities, conditions of development required to promote a decentralisation of the Valley should be enhanced in order to reduce the amount of pollutants generated by the city as whole. (40) Economic Measures Another important line of action is the development of fiscal incentives in order to facilitate the acquisition and operation of anti-pollution systems, in the industrial sector as well as for vehicles. A clear example of the lack of the internalisation of the economic costs is the economic policy applied to the use of fuels by vehicles in the country. Today natural gas is not a favoured option because this type of fuel has a tax that has seen an increase of up to 100%. In comparison, gasoline is charged with a tax of 60%, while it has been eliminated in the case of liquefied petroleum gas. 8

9 (41) Finally I would like to say that to enforce all these actions, Mexico City Environmental Secretariat has had a strong participation in the development of the Clean Air Initiative in Latin American Cities, which seeks to improve air quality in cities like de Mexico, Lima-Callao, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile y Sao Paulo, by bringing together the efforts of leaders from the public and private sectors, research and academic institutions, governments agencies and international institutions. The main goals of the Initiative are: 1. Promote the integrated development or enhancement of city clean air action plans based on the participation of all relevant stakeholders. 2. Advance the exchange of knowledge and experience among all partners. 3. Foster public participation and the active involvement of the private sector in implementing innovations in the use of low-emission, low-carbon technologies. (42) In this context, from june it was held the Clean Air Workshop for Mexico City, which became the catalyst of the design of the next air quality programme for the Metropolitan Area and which included a complete review of environmental indicators, as well as the main precedents, challenges and goals that have been established during the past years, aiming to show a general overview of the achievements regarding abatement of atmospheric pollution in the MCMA, and will draw attention to the information that will shape the policies of the air quality programme for Mexico City Metropolitan Area

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