Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Madrid, Where It Pays To Pollute

With the motor industry suffering badly the effects of the crisis, several autonomous comunidades in Spain have come up with schemes that offer some incentive to buy a car. The national government has also announced today a new scheme to try and persuade more drivers to replace their current vehicle. Madrid, of course, has to be a little different in the way it does things. The Spanish capital frequently suffers dangerous levels of contaminants in the air, and despite occasional half-hearted attempts to blame this on the Sahara Desert the principal cause ís traffic. Such levels of pollution are clearly not sufficient for Esperanza Aguirre's administration, because the incentives they announced recently give most benefit to the cars that contaminate the most. Because the scheme is based around returning some of a vehicle tax that buyers of cheaper or cleaner cars don't have to pay, the result is that most of the benefit goes to those who buy the huge suburban tanks that cruise the city's streets, usually containing just a driver and occasionally a small child. It has to be this way, there are still some residents of the city centre that don't suffer respiratory problems. Perhaps we need another scheme to subsidise the few remaining mascarillas that haven't already been bought up for the gripe porcina?

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