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Rome wants to ban diesels by 2024 to help reduce congestion, pollution

Pollution isn't just bad for the air, it's also bad for the timeless monuments scattered around the city.

Italy Traffic
Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Rome wasn't built in a day. It wasn't built with cars and diesel emissions in mind, either, which is why the city is looking to a ban to help clean up its act and preserve its history for the future.

Rome plans to ban diesels from its city center by 2024, Reuters reports, citing comments from Virginia Raggi, the city's mayor, via her Facebook page. "If we want to intervene seriously, we have to have the courage to adopt strong measures," Raggi wrote in a post. "We must act on the causes and not just the effects."

Previous mitigation efforts were met with resistance from drivers and low enforcement efforts from local police. Hopefully this one goes a bit better.

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Reuters points out that Rome's situation is interesting, in the sense that the city lacks major industry, so its pollution problem is almost entirely due to congested streets and the resulting diesel emissions. It has attempted to enact bans in the past when pollution gets high enough, such as banning vehicles based on number plates, but the bans were poorly enforced and easy for the public to get around.

It's not just about asthma, either. Rome is littered with priceless monuments, many of which are susceptible to pollution-based damage. Italy's culture ministry estimated that 3,600 stone monuments and 60 bronze sculptures risk "serious deterioration" from air pollution, and it's not like you can just buy new ones to replace 'em.

With some two thirds of new cars in Italy last year carrying diesel engines, this isn't a problem that's due to go away on its own, hence Rome's decision to take action.

Yesterday, a German court ruled that cities are allowed to institute individual diesel bans. Cities around the world like Paris and Mexico City are investigating such measures as they attempt to curb emissions-related pollution.