MARTHA DELGADO PERALTA ‘s COLUMN: MEXICO: Errors of Atmospheric Contingency – PART I

Martha Delgado Peralta: "Some say that Mexico City's cleanliness ended 25 years ago, and that today we are just like Beijing...things are changing." Photo (c) Planeta Azul 2011Martha Delgado Peralta: "Some say that Mexico City's cleanliness ended 25 years ago, and that today we are just like Beijing...things are changing." Photo (c) Planeta Azul 2011

(Cross-Posted with Permission of EstePaís) – In the late eighties, I came to live in Mexico City for my university studies. What caught my attention was all the differences between the big city and my birthplace was air pollution.

Every week, the city roadsides were immersed in a very dark gray cream, and the consequences were inevitable: loosing visibility beyond 30 meters away, watering eyes, and headaches. How should we forget the many birds that succumbed at that time due to the toxic cloud in which we lived? Some say that Mexico City’s cleanliness ended 25 years, and that today we are just like Beijing. And we forget that black chimneys and exhaust from cars and trucks were not the exception but the rule in those years.

But Mexico City has come a long way that have us in a very different circumstance, even with its enormous challenges. It has been possible to advance, but there is also the risk of backsliding. To understand what happens to air quality today, it is necessary to identify the progress made in more than a quarter century to combat air pollution in the Metropolitan Area of ​​Mexico (MCMA), pinpoint errors which they have committed and get back on track with decisions that are necessary to achieve the goal of having a good air quality throughout the year in the metropolis.

The Progress

The good results were not the product of one or two enlightened characters who had good ideas; nor public policies implemented in some six years in particular. They were given on the basis of successful action, sustained over time, consensus among different governments, and from a huge social sacrifice. Photo (c) Historia Alternativa 1998

Abating air pollution in the Mexico valley basin is one of the most important environmental, social, economic and political challenges of our time. Public policy to improve air quality in this region of our country has had tremendous achievements that have been recognized over time and on an international basis. Very few cities in the world have achieved and sustained trends of downward levels in air pollution. In fact, most large cities in the world, and even in Mexico, come to have better air quality in previous years and will be presenting lower quality in subsequent years.

In the MCMA, despite the increase of the vehicle fleet and travel times, air quality has improved and public policies implemented until 2013 had been effective. The good results were not the product of one or two enlightened characters who had good ideas; nor public policies implemented in some six years in particular. They were given on the basis of successful action, sustained over time, consensus among different governments, and from a huge social sacrifice. This does not mean that there are chronic deficiencies that continue to contribute to air pollution: the poor quality of gasoline, uncontrolled urban development and the lack of attention to sustainable public transport, they have been aspects that have a high impact. The fact is that even so, improvements were significant.

Table 1 have included is the daily map Metropolitan Index of Air Quality (Imeca) ozone, day by day for the past 30 years. We will focus on this contaminant that led to atmospheric contingency. Here we can see graphically the evolution of the presence of ozone in the atmosphere of the MCMA, assess progress and, of course, also the way we need to go. The days in red and orange had a very poor quality and bad, respectively air. Yellow days had a regular air quality and green represent days with good air quality (see Table 1).

TABLE 1 Mosaic ozone air quality in the Metropolitan Area CDMX

Photo (c) Este Pais 2016

Source: Sedema.

In my opinion, the key to the success of the strategy to combat air pollution in the MCMA 1990 to 2012 were as follows:

  • The Metropolitan Coordination through the Metropolitan Environmental Commission (CAM): Coordination between governments of the State of Mexico, the Federal District and the Federal Government, and later the State of Hidalgo, was an issue of great importance to achieve planning and implementation of measures in the medium and long term. Since the creation of the CAM in 1992, and even with its ups and downs, he was able to design, implement and evaluate successful public policies to control atmospheric emissions, governments committed to keeping programs with medium and long term. Even with authorities of different parties in the governments involved, decisions were made by consensus, and announced together with a common communication policy. Only then was it possible to assume high political costs that verification programs, Hoy No Circula (HNC) and industrial control had earlier contingency.
  • Scientific and technological basis: The technical and scientific expertise gained from the consolidation of work teams of the highest professional level in governments, particularly the Government of the Federal District (GDF), in addition to the permanent support of the Center Mario Molina, the Clean Air Institute, the Center for atmospheric Sciences of the UNAM, the Miracle Project, and many other academic, social and private institutions, were essential to identify more and more precisely the causes and consequences of air pollution. The measures taken counted with a source of scientific and technical knowledge on which social, economic and political viability is valued, not vice versa.
  • Holistic and long-term planning: Structuring long-term programs for the Improvement of Air Quality (Proaire) of the MCMA was essential to ensure continuity and avoid inventing the “black thread” in each of the administrations local and federal involved. The four programs that have been covering a period of 30 years from 1990 to 2020, and increasingly contain a range of more robust action incorporating a better understanding of the atmospheric phenomenon of the basin, and measures more targeted to each of the sources and types of contaminants:

o With the Integral Program Against Air Pollution (PICCA 1990-1995) became mandatory vehicle emissions testing program, the supply of unleaded gasoline began, the refinery was closed on March 18, the first Mexican Official Quality Standards published air and major local and federal environmental institutions were created. This program was able to reduce lead emissions by more than 98% getting a great benefit for public health. At that time, most of the year poor air quality had; only in 1991 they were only eight days below 100 points Imeca ozone.

o 1995-2000 Proaire managed to reduce ozone concentrations in 16.4%, from 147 precontingencias to 24 in 2000, but only for 43 days a year values ​​less than 100 points were taken Imeca atmospheric particles and over-bearing frequency standards of air quality. During this period they were significantly reduced levels of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, remaining below the norm to date.

o Pro-Aire 2002-2010 was developed with a larger pool of scientific research and emissions reduction targets were established for each criteria pollutant being monitored in the MCMA. His most important results were the elimination of concentrations above 200 points Imeca and gradual and sustained increase of days with good air quality, 65 days per year in 2002 to 216 days per year in 2010 ozone (see Table 2); likewise the gradual reduction of PM10 and PM2.5 is achieved, although their annual averages still exceed standards today.

o Pro-Aire 2011-2020 incorporates the experiences of previous programs and introduces a paradigm shift in the design and management of processes generating atmospheric pollution, understanding its complexity holistically. The new ecosystem approach strengthens ZMVM management to improve air quality in a sustainable manner, thus contributing to obtaining urban, economic and social co-benefits lasting. The current Proaire contains 81 measures and 116 actions with their respective target actors responsible, ecosystem integration, justification, description, schedule, benefits, pollutants involved and estimated cost of each measure. Had it been carried out as planned, by the end of this year the program would have to have an advance 50%.

TABLE 2 Days <= 100 points Imeca

Photo (c) EstePais 2016


Errors (One Per Year)

Current federal and Mexico City (2006-2012), the State of Mexico and Hidalgo administrations (2011-2017) received the 2011-2020 Proaire already developed, and their efforts are entirely within the same planning period. In short, there was little to invent but a lot to implement during those six years in office.

However, the coincidence of the new income from all agencies involved in the implementation of Proaire perhaps was the reason it has been ignored, for the first time in history. No government refers to the instrument, except in official documents and justification only as isolated and irrelevant decisions. Nor is there a systematic evaluation of the progress of the program, and even after atmospheric contingencies we have witnessed, from the new Environmental Commission of Megalopolis (CMEA) to governments, expert groups, consultants and academics have begun to generate brainstorming and proposed solutions to air problems without even referring to the existing program. The international award so smug Siemens C40 & City Climate Leadership Awards 2013 was awarded to Mexico City precisely in the category of air quality by the Proaire 2011-2020. Unfortunately, the neglect of this program opened the space to make wrong and very costly for the city and its inhabitants decisions.

  1. The creation of the Environmental Commission of Megalopolis (October 2013)

On October 3, 2013, the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, the GDF and the states of Hidalgo, Mexico, Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala Environmental Commission of Megalopolis (CMEA) was created. The creation of this Commission was presented as a great political agreement of wills to coordinate environmental actions in the central part of the country, which had worked well if it were not for:

  1. a) The new CAME leaving the Proaire 2011-2020. In fact, on its website even considered as a reference document. The new Air Quality Program of the megalopolis that appears on this site is a text of just one page and a half.
  2. b) The new CAME not recover the experience, staff or the organizational form of the previous CAM. It is created from scratch without any transition or transfer of knowledge and skills. He ignores 17 years of experience only metropolitan coordination mechanism in the country that gave permanent and positive results were made.
  3. c) The new CAME adds three new states (Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala) whose problematic, particularly in terms of air quality, are very different from those experienced by the Mexico valley basin.
  4. d) The new CAME tries to cover a lot, all environmental issues in the central region, but little squeeze and detracts attention to the need to address air pollution, which was a priority in the previous format. Air quality is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Coordination Agreement creating the CMEA.
  5. e) The new CAME is created for the photo. You are not granted budget, personnel, and even initially operated without offices for many months. Currently the situation is very precarious.
  6. f) The new CAME is run by inexperienced personnel to combat air pollution, and no political experience to coordinate the efforts of federal and local authorities from different partisan backgrounds. Additionally, new teams of local governments were also renewed with little staff qualified. In Mexico City a prestigious team of professionals focused on the field with 15 years of experience was dismantled.
  7. g) Unlike the CAM, the new CAME not integrated with the participation of all ministries of the Federal Government, nor has an Advisory Council made up of specialists and representatives of social, academic and business sectors. In fact, the members of the Consultative Council of the CAM not even thanked them for their collaboration after 17 years of work.

So after the body would have to face the contingencies atmospheric ozone in the MCMA was formed.

  1. The HNC every Saturday (June 2014)

On June 18, 2014, the head of the Federal District, Miguel Angel Mancera, announced the hardening of HNC program from the restriction on the movement of vehicles over 15 years old every Saturday, and those nine and 15 years, two Saturdays a month. Photo (c) Proceso Mexico 2012

On June 18, 2014, the head of the Federal District, Miguel Angel Mancera, announced the hardening of HNC program from the restriction on the movement of vehicles over 15 years old every Saturday, and those nine and 15 years, two Saturdays a month. The amendment was automatically assumed by the new commission of the megalopolis, causing not only the chagrin of those affected, but also a great controversy among experts and environmental organizations, political parties, and even a controversy between them implementing authorities.

The main equivocation incurred in the modernization program HNC 2014 were as follows:

  • The program amendment was announced in isolation: International experience shows that to get the maximum benefit from the vehicle restriction, this should be complemented by other measures, particularly related to improving public transport. The Proaire contains many more urgent that the amendment to HNC actions, but the authority chose to only review the program and announce modernize without accompany this measure of other very important. In fact, the proposed adjustment to HNC Mario Molina Center included almost 20 measures were not incorporated in the modernization program.
  • The metropolitan descoordinación: The program was announced as a result of joint work within the Environmental Commission of the Megalopolis. Unfortunately, three days after the GDF recoiled unilaterally offering cars over 15 years obtaining hologram 1, depending on their emissions and not its model year (thus setting a bad precedent that a year later would become general) . On 9 July, the Government of Mexico announced the suspension of the measure in its territory, the first time the HNC differentially implemented in both entities.
  • The lack of scientific basis, especially in Saturday’s election: Although the Proaire recommended to check the HNC (without specifying what changes are needed) and Mario Molina Center recommended the Double No Circula for older cars to 16 years (unspecified the day of the week), there is no scientific basis to explain the reason why was chosen the most polluting vehicles cease to circulate every Saturday, being that this day was not on average the most polluted. The restriction on vehicular movement of the polluting fleet has always been implemented in the week distributing cars stop moving for better impacts on public health. So that each day of the week stops circulating 20% ​​of the dirtiest park (including one Saturday a month that is also incorporated with resistance, but effectively, in 2008).

Concentrating restriction on vehicular circulation of the most polluting cars in a single day is meaningless in environmental and public health matters. Faced with such a hard constraint valid questions that imply some discrimination towards the population with less economic resources arise: why the “old” or “classic” cars are exempt ?, Why hologram 0 is given and the possibility of circulating daily up to eight years to SUVs or high-powered vehicles, which are highly polluting although new? Why instead of investing in public transport and bicycles, GDF decided to subsidize with 200 million pesos (MDP) owners of private cars gifting them a catalytic converter?

The measure impacted unnecessarily to a very large population of people, and social unrest had two implications: the National Action Party offered to citizens support tramitarles shelters before the program, and the Party of the Democratic Revolution lost the election of 2015, partly as a result of this measure as arbitrary.

III. Today if you drive the vehicle to above 2008 (July 2015)

“Why instead of investing in public transport and bicycles, GDF decided to subsidize with 200 million pesos (MDP) owners of private cars gifting them a catalytic converter?” Photo (c) Vanguardia 2009

An estimated 2,000 people were the owners of vehicles prior to 2008 that promoted injunction against the Mandatory Vehicle Emissions Testing Program for the Federal District. In the trials the suspension of direct execution of the hologram 2 in the age of the vehicle requested, because it was considered that if this was well maintained should have the right to move every day, getting the hologram 0. Some judges granted the suspension and other non but as different criteria can not be used to solve the same issues, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation initiated a trial of contradictory argument to determine what had to be the correct view that judges should apply. The judgment of the Court told the judges that it was appropriate to grant the suspension of the act allowing the vehicle could move if it met the emission levels set standards.

This criterion naked eye is correct. The vehicles would have to get their holograms solely on the basis of their emissions, regardless of their age. But unfortunately the vehicle inspection has been becoming a little transparent procedure, as is common in some verificentros corruption and delivery of holograms 0 to vehicles that do not meet the required emission levels. That was the reason behind giving a hologram 2 to above 2008 vehicles, which generally do not have enough anti-pollution technology to meet the standards, the argument that GDF had to brandish before the Court to defend Verification Program.

However, not only was there no proper defense of the program before the Court, but once the judgment in favor of the promoters of the shelters was communicated to the judges, Mancera made a decision that would have fatal consequences for air quality , mobility and health of the population of the city. Two days after the decision of the Court, perhaps after considering that granting the hologram 0 to vehicles prior to 2008 would politically to dilute and remove the effects of No Circula Sabatino, the Government of Mexico City, through the Ministry of Environment and voice of the legal adviser Jose Ramon Amieva, announced the following:

The head of government has instructed us that through the Ministry of Environment will propose to the Environmental Commission of the Megalopolis modification Mandatory Vehicle Emissions Testing Program for the second half of 2015. This notice was published in the Official Gazette last June 29, 2015 and is effective from 1st July 2015; He has asked that the amendment be proposed to the effect that it is no longer necessary to promote any protection, the judge or district judge does not know of an issue of suspension and voluntarily the City Government accept the application of this criterion and report to the verification centers at the time when a motor vehicle is hereby granted the decal appropriate according to the gas emissions resulting from the verification procedure precisely emissions.

In short, the Government of Mexico City decided to generalize the decision of the Court, which was directed exclusively to the judges who had to solve shelters for 2,000 motorists, extending the approach to all motorists with older model vehicles to 2008. this proposal was presented by the City Government to the CMEA and again was automatically accepted, so it is immediately generalized to all MCMA.

The generalization of this approach, which did not require the local executive, managed to give back their Saturdays enraged motorists that were not running that day, but also returned them to the weekday. Predictably, corruption in some verification centers was swift, and in the second half of vehicle inspection 2015, before more than one million 700 thousand vehicles in 2008 went from having hologram 2 to be 0, and thus, to circulate every day of the week. If we consider that the vehicle fleet of the MCMA is just over 5 million cars, this decision launched daily circulation in six months an additional 35% of cars (and all of them prior to 2008, ie more pollutants ).

Given the contingency, blaming the Supreme Court of this decision was a resource so I resorted first head of government after the federal secretary of Environment and coordinator of the CMEA, and later to the experts and environmentalists, rationalized argument and introduced hundreds of statements made in the media. Minister Margarita Luna Ramos had to come out to clarify “the role of the Court in the HNC” in an extensive and well pointed article published in El Universal on March 22, 2016, but did not have the penetration did take deception .

Among the measures that could be taken to prevent migration from previous vehicles hologram 2008 to 0 through a wave of court orders were the following:

  • Allow the suspension of the act to 2,000 vehicles they sought shelter. Finally, 2 thousand vehicles represent only 0.04% of the vehicle fleet.
  • Develop an emerging standard for establishing levels much stricter emissions not allow him to obtain the hologram polluting vehicles 0 easily.
  • Design and publish a new Vehicle Emissions Testing Program incorporating reading OBD-II emissions by readers to post-2006 vehicles, and deliver holograms 2 to the above vehicles, not to have this new technology. These readings could have been implemented immediately, as from 1 January 2012 the GDF verificentros forced to change the software check all lines, including the possibility of reading from this new technological format.
  • Install verificentros better armored corruption that were owned by the government of the city, only to verify the previous vehicle fleet to 2006. Although this means an investment could be financed with the vehicle inspection fee. This does not remove the risk of corruption, but at least those responsible would be governed by stricter legislation as public servants and could be monitored more directly.

With the HNC program and virtually nullified and almost all cars circulating daily in March 2016 entered the “ozone season”. Ozone is a pollutant that is generated by fixed or mobile sources directly; It is a secondary pollutant resulting from a photochemical reaction of emissions mainly transport, but also industry and forest fires, such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, highly reactive, particularly to strong solar radiation. In dry season, to rising temperatures and atmospheric stability conditions which are frequent from March to June in the MCMA, high levels of ozone are generated.

  1. Adjusting levels detonation of contingencies (April 6, 2016)

Given that levels of detonation of contingencies and atmospheric precontingencies both in the ozone and particulate PM10 remained stable for many years, in 2008, after launching a package of six measures to reduce air pollution in the MCMA, the full of former Metropolitan Environmental Commission decided to reduce the levels of detonation of contingencies and atmospheric precontingencias five points each year, to gradually address ourselves to the compatibility of the Official Mexican Standard 020 and contingency atmospheric levels in the MCMA.

After the previous administration in 2012, the detonation of atmospheric prealert ozone was reduced gradually from 171 to 151 points, and atmospheric contingency ozone from 201 to 180 points, so that in the six years 2006 -2012 decreased by 20 points. Parallel very different plans that managed to get a breakthrough in improving air quality were made: the Green Plan Mexico City; the Climate Action Plan; the impetus to sustainable transport (metro, metrobus, ecobici, Zero Emissions Corridors, replacing 9,000 buses, introduction of electric taxis, among other environmental and urban programs); six metropolitan measures to improve air quality released in conjunction with the State of Mexico in 2008, and a dozen actions taken during the first year of 2011-2020, which was Proaire 2012, as this program was presented in December 2011.

Improving air quality continued a trend of sustained improvement in both ozone and particulate except in 2011, when we had a rise out of the trend. As shown in Table 2, the number of days in which the ozone level is maintained below 100 points Imeca increased from 151 in 2006 to 248 in 2012, obtaining the record clean days ozone per year in the ZMVM, it has not been overcome to date.

During the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, levels of declarations of precontingencias and contingencies remained static (the prealert 151 points ozone and ozone contingency 180). On August 19, 2014 the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) published the Mexican Official Standard NOM-020-SSA1-2014 environmental health with the permissible limit values ​​for ozone concentration in ambient air and criteria for evaluation. The concentration established ozone was tightened to be closer to those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) values, setting values ​​less than 0.095 ppm for average of one hour, and less than 0.070 ppm for average eight hours (annual maximum). Applies throughout the country and only serves as a reference for local authorities design their own public health policies and control of air pollution.

On March 5, 2015 and again almost a year later, on February 5, 2016, the governments of Mexico City and the State of Mexico published two Programs for Atmospheric Contingencies with the same values ​​of declaration of contingencies than before. On 12 March 2016 an environmental prealert remained for three days, and the 14th of the same month entered into force on HNC for all vehicles with hologram 1 and 2. However, as we have said is said, most cars with 2 hologram had already obtained the previous semester hologram 0, so that contingency measure to stop the vehicle fleet did not work, because instead of removing about two million cars off the road during prealert were only just over 50 thousand who still they had the hologram punished. On 14 March 2016 the first atmospheric ozone contingency for the last 14 years (ie, which is not presented since 2002) was declared.

After the contingency and to the gap in levels of detonation with respect to HNC, and more than 1 million 700 thousand pre-2008 vehicles circulating daily, April 6, 2016 the authorities amended the Program for Atmospheric Environmental Contingency eliminating prealert phase and decreasing the contingency declaratory blow midseason ozone, from 180 to 150 points, ie 30 points less than one day to another.

The CMEA also temporarily adjusted the HNC establishing a restriction couple vehicular traffic to all vehicles regardless of hologram. It is very important to mention that March contingency occurred with previous levels of detonation of the program, unlike subsequent contingencies. Remove the prealert was a serious mistake because this phase establishes measures to prevent the arrival of the contingency. Therefore, it is a phase that will have to return with new methods to help prevent contingency.

From the model established in the previous CAM to reduce five points contingency annually in 2013 he has followed the contingency should have been detonated in 176 points in 2014 to 171 points in 2015 to 166, and this year should estarla detonating in Imeca 161 points, not 150. This would not have prevented the first contingency of March 14, but eight contingencies that we experienced during 2016, only four exceeded the 161 points (the April 5, the 14, 24 and May 31 were detonated with less than 161 points) values.

To understand the role and the need for adjustments to contingencies is important to clarify the following:

  1. Detonate precontingencias and contingencies is not a policy to improve air quality, but a policy of prevention of health risks. Wielding these risks to justify reducing levels is irrelevant, since in that case the levels would have to be much lower, since current levels continue to pose risks.
  2. Lower levels of contingency is useful to avoid exposure of the population to unusually high concentrations of air pollutants, but each city sets its own contingency levels according to their regular rates of air pollutants. The tightening of the rules does not mean the automatic tightening of contingency atmospheric levels or the same dimensions.
  3. The contingency levels not required by the federal authority, but local governments.
  4. The air quality standards set exposure limits desirable for health protection and the need not exceed those levels at any time of the year. However, compliance does not depend on the contingencies, but public policies implemented to control emissions of air pollutants permanently in cities.
  1. An erratic and misleading communication that confuses society

In the process of implementing the measures that have been taken since 2013, it has incurred two erratic levels of communication that have generated great confusion in society. The first relates to the message they send public policy. In particular, the HNC was a very complicated and difficult program to assimilate by society. His message for 15 years was needed to renew the vehicle fleet to reduce pollution, and hence the HNC program was designed to migrate to the use of vehicles with better pollution control technologies. All changes to the program were in that sense and achieved their goal, as the MCMA has renewed the vehicle fleet in the country.

But in the last two years the program sent mixed messages: in 2014 the message was “punishment every Saturday have an old vehicle”; in 2015, with the decision attributed to the Supreme Court, was that regardless of vehicle technology, this could circulate daily, and in 2016, with the restriction partner to all models by contingency, the message is that although cars have technology (except for hybrid and electric) did not circulate one day a week.

In addition to the anger of the people for not being able to organize in time, and costs representing the temporary HNC, not understanding the causes of air pollution and listen to the authorities blaming each other, he made the society and not him find meaning to past decisions and even questions the usefulness of HNC program.

On the other hand, to defend some decisions have resorted to misleading arguments and contradictory policies:

  1. Mexico City Transit amended Regulation and significantly lowered speed limits, and a few months later started to remove caps.
  2. The head of government said he was very concerned about the health of the population and said reducing levels of contingency detonation was necessary and irreversible. However, recently it stated that the levels were lowered unilaterally by the Cofepris and they have to be reviewed, even if this is a local competition.
  3. He also ruled out support for electric taxis, propelling coming from the previous administration, arguing its high cost (December 2015), but in May 2016 announced financial support for hybrid and electric taxis.
  4. It has been argued that Mexico City is not the most polluted in the country because the WHO presented a ranking of the most polluted cities in the world and ours appears in eighth place after other Mexican metropolitan areas. But unfortunately that ranking refers to PM10 particle pollution and ozone pollution not, that is what has caused contingencies. In a matter of ozone, the MCMA still leads.
  5. pollution has been attributed to state industry of Mexico and the Tula refinery. Indeed they are very important sources, but all of them have been present for many years; They are not new factors that particularly impact on a specific elevation of ozone.
  6. It has been said that in fact the contamination has not risen, but the rules are stricter. In fact, the head of government said that under the current rules the administration of Lopez Obrador would come every day contingency. Although air quality is better now than 15 years ago, as seen in Figure, even taking for all previous years the values ​​of the new NOM-020-SSA1-2014 environmental health less than 0.095 ppm, pollution in the last three years has been slightly increasing and days off are more standard than before.

GRÁFICA Number of days above 0.095 ppm of ozone in the MCMA (1990 to 2016)

Photo (c) Este Pais 2016

Source: Prepared with data from Automatic Atmospheric Monitoring System.


The consequences of the mistakes made in the implementation of these measures are very serious: they demonstrate the relevance of government decisions, exhibit the lack of metropolitan coordination and scientific soundness of the measures; take away legitimacy to the whole HNC, facing a severe risk of no longer being supported by citizens; great uncertainty for the implementation of other measures to combat air pollution, which will be hardly supported by the population is generated, and surely the mishandling of communication and high political costs incurred unnecessarily inhibit other authorities of the country the implementation of programs restriction of vehicular traffic.

Even if mistakes have been a determining worsen air quality in the metropolis factor, it is important to recognize that there are other factors that are affecting atmospheric chemistry and should be studied very carefully, such as climate change, gasoline quality, lax emission standards for new vehicles and neglect to firefighting.

Mexico City was the spearhead in combating air pollution. It is the entity that has worked, studied and invested in order to improve air quality in the region, and historically made the latest environmental policies. Today not only return to the capital episodes of atmospheric crisis that we had left behind, but all previous advances have been unknown.

The federal authority has taken the lead in doing tasks that do not matter competence, such as inspecting verificentros decide the HNC and assume social communication programs. This could be an opportunity for this agenda before the void left especially Mexico City. However, unfortunately federal decisions have not been the best. The new verification standard is a step forward, but insufficient, again isolated, and that continues to favor the purchase of cars above the actual emissions of the same. In addition, the new verification mechanism teams OBD-II for 2006 model vehicles onwards is not shielded against corruption, and above does not attack the central corruption that occurs precisely for that (not recent) above models can pass the verification, which continue to use the usual method.

Finally, it should be clarified that this is not the case of unpopular public policies assume liability and because they are part of a progressive view of the city. On the contrary, they have been decided on electoral and media cover the criteria for the above error, worsening the situation and, of course, air quality and legitimacy of institutional programs. Fortunately, the decline is not irreversible. It is possible to get back on track and achieve the goal of having 365 days with good air quality. Next month we will discuss some of the solutions.


Programa para Mejorar la Calidad del Aire en la ZMVM 2011-2020, Comisión Ambiental Metropolitana, 2011.

Resumen Ejecutivo del Estudio Evaluación del Programa Hoy No Circula en la ZMVM, Centro Mario Molina para Estudios Estratégicos sobre Energía y Medio Ambiente, 2013.

Reporte del Programa Hoy No Circula Sabatino a 1.5 años de su implementación, SMA-GDF, 2010.

Revisión Crítica de Información sobre el Proyecto de Restricción Sabatina Vehicular, Clean Air Institute, 2007.

6 medidas metropolitanas para mejorar la calidad del aire, Comisión Ambiental Metropolitana, 2008.

Soluciones de fondo para mejorar la calidad del aire del Valle de México, Centro Mario Molina, mayo de 2016.

Sistema de Monitoreo Atmosférico de la Ciudad de México, Secretaría del Medio Ambiente de la Ciudad de México.

Informe La Calidad del Aire en América Latina: Una Visión Panorámica, Clean Air Institute, 2012.

Informe Nacional de Calidad del Aire 2014, México, Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático, Semarnat, 2015.

About the Author

Martha Delgado Peralta
Martha Delgado Peralta is a Columnist at Pulsamerica, based in Mexico. She is "one of the few environmentalists who participates in political society in Mexico, and is currently Director General of Fundación Pensar. Recognized for her career in the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, of which she emerged and subsequently separated, she is furthermore recognized in Mexican high society by Revista Quien and Grupo Expansion. In public administration, she has served as advisor to the President of the National Institute of Ecology from 1993 to 1998, during the efforts of Ingeniero Gabriel Quadri. From 1998 to 2003, she was President of the Mexican Citizen Presence, A.C., and also was President of the Union of Environmentalists I.A.P. from 1998 to 2003 - a coalition that covered over one hundred environmental organizations in Mexico. She was Independent Deputy from 2003 to 2006 in the Third Legislature of the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District, a position which came postulated by the late Mexico Possible Party. Martha Delgado has participated in several public forums, such as the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, China, 1995; Fourth World Conference on Biodiversity, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1996; International Meeting "Building Global Democracy" in New Delhi, India, 1999; Fifth World Conference on Global Climate Change in Bonn, Germany, 1999. She has participated in various international fora such as the Meeting of C40 in Seoul Korea, 2008, Meeting presentation of the main Green Plans World (San Francisco), 2007, the V World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey, 2008. The COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark and COP16 in Cancun, Mexico. Meeting of ICLEI in Edmonton, Canada. The [V World Urban Forum], Rio de Janeiro 2010".