The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, has received a formal recommendation from the Federal Prosecution Office (MPF) not to postpone the implementation of stricter rules of control regarding pollutants by the automobile industry. Due to the economic effects of the pandemic for the sector, car manufacturers have placed pressure on the government to postpone, for two or three years, the new stage of the Program to Control Air Pollution by Motor Vehicles (PROCONVE), which is scheduled to come into force from 2022. The MPF argues, however, that the inertia for the implementation of the Program in the last 12 years, at least, inhibits any justification for extending the time limit.
This is precisely the claim of the Breathe Coalition, which brings together a group of organizations from civil society (including iCS and many of its grantees, such as the Health and Sustainability Institute, Alana, Corrida Amiga, ITDP, IDEC, Como Anda, Bike Anjo and 350 .org) that are striving for clean air in Brazil. The Invisible Enemy campaign is an effort by the coalition to prevent the federal government from agreeing to extend the PROCONVE deadline. The arguments are innumerable: only in Brazil, air pollution is associated with 51,000 deaths per year according to the World Health Organization; in the world, it is the main environmental cause of illness and death, overtaking unsafe water and vector-borne diseases. The health effects do not last only for the 3 years of postponement requested by the car manufacturers, but for 30 years or more, which is the useful life of a vehicle, such as a truck or a bus, with its outdated technology that it continues to circulate.
The entities that compose the coalition have signed a statement that warns of the need for a fair recovery for everybody, with intersectoral measures for the transition to a more sustainable economy – reinforcing some recent studies that correlate air pollution to a possible factor for the propagation of the new coronavirus, in addition to the worsening of Covid-19 and its lethality.
There are six public requests in the statement :
1. Fair Recovery with Cleaner Vehicles: stimulus to use renewable energies and cleaner fuel technologies, advanced in PROCONVE.
2. Individual Active Transport for Social Distancing: incentive to rapid implementation and low-cost actions for bicycles and pedestrians, with climate and social benefits
3. Guarantee of Quality Public Transport: measures of distancing between users, appropriate cleaning and hygiene and transparent public resources, with clean fuels and technologies, in addition to prioritization with dedicated lanes and corridors
4. Zero Deforestation and Containment of Fires: stop the advance of deforestation and guarantee the work of inspection and management of agencies such as IBAMA, ICMBIO and FUNAI
5. Monitoring and Updated Standards of Air Quality: expand the network to monitor air quality and to operate the standards in accordance with those established by the World Health Organization as the safest for health protection
6. Urgency in the Approval of the National Policy of Air Quality: resume the discussion, improvement and approval of Bill 10521/2018, in progress in the Chamber of Deputies, which creates the National Policy of Air Quality