The French capital struggles with air pollution

Paris bans old polluting diesel cars

Image credit: ILJR

Paris is stepping up its war on air pollution with a complete ban on diesel cars registered before December 2000.

The ban, which has come into force on Monday, follows a series of steps implemented by current Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo over the years, which failed to deliver substantial results.

From now on, French drivers of diesel-powered cars will be obliged to put a sticker onto the front screens of their cars identifying how much pollution the vehicle emits. Cars with grey stickers, indicating diesel vehicles registered between January 1997 and December 2000, will be completely banned from entering Paris. Some 6 per cent of France's 32 million cars will be affected by the decision.

Hidalgo has previously implemented a whole range of measures designed to discourage people from using cars in Paris, such as increasing cost of parking and banning free parking on Saturdays and during the August holiday period. However, not even making public transport free during extreme air pollution spells has helped alleviate the problem.

In December last year, French scientists said the level of smog in the capital has reached a critical threshold.

The city experimented with allowing cars to be used only on alternate days based on whether their licence plate numbers end with odd or even numbers.

Hidalgo said she hoped the ban would extend also to diesel cars registered between 2001 and 2005, which under the new Crit Air sticker scheme are marked as brown. These vehicles make up about 14 per cent of all cars registered in France.

According to a spokeswoman for the Paris municipal authorities, police would find the color-coded scheme easy to operate. However, she was not able to estimate how many cars would be affected in the city.

Hidalgo is also planning to turn a highway on both banks of the Seine into a riverside park.

“I can really feel the pollution. I have young children and I can see it on their skin and hair. It’s such a shame that in Paris, which we call the City of Light, were not able to fix this problem,” a Parisian called Marie complained to Reuters Television on Monday while the city was covered with a thick blanket of smog.

“I never cough but today Ive had coughing fits, I have a runny nose, its really not nice,” said Henriette Robine, another resident.

Paris is encouraging residents to limit their use of fossil fuel-powered cars. In 2011, the city launched an electric car-sharing scheme, Autolib, inspired by the bicycle-sharing project Velib.

In July 2016, the city launched its first fully electric bus line. Earlier this week, trials of a fully electric self-driving minibus commenced between Lyon and Austerlitz train stations in Paris.

Two EZ10 minibuses by French firm Easymile will be ferrying people seven days a week free of charge until April.


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