To talk about the elections in Rome I start from a given: plus 22 percent. This is the still provisional increase in traffic in Rome compared to a year ago according to a map drawn up by Enel X in collaboration with the Here satellite app. A disturbing fact and destined to worsen with the return of all public employees to the office, in spite of agile work and the consequent sustainable mobility. In Rome there is a growing jungle of mopeds and cars, which, among other things, brings with it a chain of fatal accidents – now almost one person a day dies in absolute indifference – and an increase in air pollution. . According to a study by the valid association Citizens for the Air, areas such as Tiburtina, Policlinico, Boccea and Piazzale degli eroi are polluted by nitrogen dioxide, the cause of 6.2 percent of the deaths of the capital.
They are dramatic data but they have an explanation. Why did the Romans go back to using the car? The reasons are clear. On the one hand, the pandemic is not over and the fear of contagion on public transport it’s obvious. But there is another fact that is intertwined with that of the pandemic: climate change. The very long wave of summer heat, with the heat that does not seem to drop even now, would require not only air conditioning on the vehicles but also the creation of green corridors to reach the stops and shelters that provide shade. There is nothing of this. This is a typical short circuit triggered by climate change. As far as you point on the sustainable mobility, some extreme events favor regression.
With respect to the greenery, the outgoing administration took steps, belatedly because there were no funds before, to mow the plants and felling the dangerous trees, not without clashes with the citizens’ associations of the various neighborhoods. Some trees have been replanted, but often they are small trees, which do not provide shade. One could say that anyway we are on the right track, but here is another climatic factor that thwarts the efforts, namely the drought that has afflicted the city for months: not only is it experiencing the water reserves of Rome, but also the plants, partly dry, many dying.
But the deterioration of the city also arises from other factors, such as the sightseeing. Fortunately, the tourists returned, but the hope that they could go towards a different and sustainable type of tourism, according to popular slogans, was immediately wrecked, also due to the crowds deregulation – desired above all by the zealous councilor for Commerce Coia– dei restaurant tables. The right measure to help them, outdoor tables without paying the fee, has turned into a greedy and crazy invasion of any sidewalk or blue strip available, with the result of entire neighborhoods transformed into mangers.
In short, seeing Rome today, it seems that the main problems have not been solved. And on the other hand, the administration has had to fight with pandemics and climatic extremes. But there are also tragic problems that have little to do with these two factors: garbage that still invades the city. As Raggi has often recalled, the blame for the disaster also lies with the Region. But a citizen who has a landfill in front of the house or the overflowing bins (a form of violence and a health risk), he does not know. And perhaps the outgoing mayor should have made his voice heard more about this.
All this to say that, in my opinion, the mayor who comes out of the polls, whatever he is, will have in front of him a huge task, due to the intertwining of atavistic problems, environmental degradation and climate change that afflict and even more afflict Rome like other cities, as the recent report of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on climate change in cities, with worrying data. In short, the capital risks collapsing a perfect storm. Perhaps no mayor alone can do it and if I had been a candidate for leadership of the Capitol, perhaps, I would have said it very clearly instead of making promises that will probably not be kept.
Not to mention that no candidate has really used the theme of climate change and the environmental degradation as the basis of their own election campaign. Comparing the election campaign in Berlin, for example, which was all about climate and in a city that has far fewer climate problems than ours, you can see how far we are behind.
In any case, Rome requires special efforts and special powers in order not to succumb. And it is also a metaphor for our country, which is also caught in a grip between ancient issues, environmental problems and the ever increasing climatic risks. To counteract which, in fact, extraordinary efforts and the commitment of all are needed.