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22 September 2011

Belarus marks Car Free Day

MINSK, 22 September (BelTA) – Belarus joins the World Car Free Day marked on 22 September, BelTA learnt from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. The move aims to reduce pollution, popularize healthy lifestyle and highlight the ecological problems in the Belarusian towns. Despite the fact that the motor transport industry is the most important economic sector, it remains to be the largest environmental polluter. Transport is responsible for 72% of the total pollutant emissions in the country. People are encouraged to support Belarus’ Car Free Day and leave their cars at home for the day. Many ministers and employers are going to support the initiative by going to work on foot or using the public transport. They will also encourage their employees to travel into work by alternative means. Bus operators will support Car Free Day by offering free tickets for their services to motorists. Exhaust fumes cause acid air, pollution, cancer, lead-poisoning and a variety of bronchial and respiratory illnesses. Due to the measures taken in the country to curb air pollution, car emits last year reduced by 17.1% in comparison with 2009, while the transport fleet increased by 4.8%. The first Car Free Day was held in La Rochelle, France, in 1997. A year later the initiative spread across the country. In 1999 France was joined by Italy and Switzerland. In 2007 partaking in the movement were 1353 towns from 37 European countries and Canada. Belarus organized its first Car Free Day in 2008. The action resulted in cutting pollutant emissions by more than 400 tonnes including nearly 100 tonnes in Minsk.