Pollution by traffic

Transnational encounter in Athens/Greece, September 2022

It was a ‘colourful’ group of 17 people from Sofia, Berlin, Rome and Athens who came together. They were volunteers, have fled to Europe from Afghanistan or Syria and/or cannot travel for other reasons due to a small purse.

The focus was on CO2 consumption by different means of transport. For this, the Greek colleagues distributed an overview with pictures of the underground, tram, bus, long-distance trains, airport, ship port and motorway. The question was: What is financed by companies, what by the state? Does this affect the quality of service? What possibilities are there to reduce CO2?

The result was astounding: In Greece, the intervention of the “Troika” in 2015 privatised much of the previously state-owned infrastructure. The German FRAPORT runs the lucrative airports, the port of Piraeus is 67% owned by a Chinese company, the management of the motorways and national roads is in private hands. Public transport in Athens, on the other hand, is financed by the city. As far as quality is concerned, no conclusions can be drawn about ownership. However, political control of CO2 reduction is made more difficult when a state cedes control to private parties, as the logic of profit maximisation is paramount with them.

Air pollution from cars was remarkable to the guests, as were the mini-oases and “pocket parks” in Athens to improve the air. They recorded their impressions in photos and videos – and learned to work with a padlet on this occasion.