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Colombia: Congress Passes Laws Aimed at Improving Air Quality

(July 31, 2019) On July 18, 2019, the Colombian Congress passed a law aimed at reducing the emission of air pollutants—80% of which, according to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, are produced by national transport, especially diesel vehicles. (Mejorar la calidad del aire, compromiso del Gobierno Duque en el Día Mundial del Medio Ambiente, MINAMBIENTE (June 5, 2019); Aprobada Ley de Calidad del Aire, AMBITO JURIDICO (May 31, 2019).)

The new law—Law No. 1972 on the Protection of the Rights to Health and a Healthy Environment, Establishing Measures Aimed at Reducing Polluting Emissions from Mobile Sources and Other Provisions—provides that, as of January 1, 2023, all diesel vehicles that enter or are manufactured in the country are required to use EURO VI technology or more advanced technology that reduces air particle emissions by 96% compared with the current technologies used in the country. (Ley No. 1972, por medio de la Cual se Establece La Protección de Los Derechos a la Salud y al Medio Mabiente Sano Establecientdo Medidas Tendientes a la Reducción de Emisiones Contaminantes de Fuentes Móviles y se Dictan Otras Disposiciones art. 4, DIARIO OFICIAL [DO] (July 18, 2019).) The Law further provides that, by January 1, 2035, all diesel vehicles circulating in the country are expected to be of EURO VI technology or higher. (Id. art. 5.)

The Congress also adopted another measure aimed at reducing air pollutants. Law No. 1964 makes the use of electric vehicles for public and official transportation mandatory, starting with 10% of the vehicles purchased in 2020 and increasing to 100% by 2030. (Ley No. 1964, por Medio de la Cual se Promueve el Uso de Vehiculos Eléctricos en Colombia y se Dictan Otras Disposiciones, DO, July 11, 2019.)

Law No. 1964 also mandates that public charging stations be installed in parking lots and in commercial and residential buildings built after the new Law becomes effective, and grants incentives for electric-vehicle owners, including reduced vehicle taxes, discounted technical-mechanical reviews, preferential parking, and the exclusion of vehicle circulation restrictions on certain days. (Id. arts. 9, 10, 5 & 6.)