Madrid is one of the most polluted cities in the European Union, however city officials are fighting back against air pollution by launching the first smart parking meter system to charge based on vehicle emissions. Starting on July 1st, diesel and other higher emission vehicles will pay more to park. A diesel car made in 2001 will pay 20 percent more to park in the city, while hybrids will be charged 20 percent less and electric vehicles will park for free.

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Madrid can boast that its two football clubs — Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid — made it to Lisbon, Portugal for the UEFA Champions League Final derby, and now the smoggy Spanish capital is kicking air pollution to the curb. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that is released into the air via car exhaust systems is a particular concern. The EU-legislated maximum safe limit for NO2 is 40 micrograms (mcg) per cubic meter, and at times Madrid’s NO2 levels have skyrocketed five times above what is considered a safe level to breathe.

Related: Southern California Has the Worst Pollution in the US

“We thought it would be fair if the cars that pollute more pay more, and compensate those who use more efficient vehicles,” said Elisa Barahona, director general of sustainability of Madrid City Council’s Environment and Mobility Department. “Particularly for those who have cars that pollute, we hope that having to pay more will make people think twice before using them.”

In addition to the smart parking meters, Madrid is initiating other programs to clean up the air, including energy-efficient buses and a bike sharing scheme slated to launch in June.

While the city is guaranteed a trophy parade no matter what happens at the Champions League final on May 24th, this might be the last time that Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid fans can drive their gas guzzlers in the city without paying more for parking.

Via The Guardian

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