On the 1st of July a new anti-pollution plan came into effect in Paris. The aim? To transform the French capital into a low emissions zone and improve air quality, by excluding the vehicles with the highest pollution levels from the city centre.
Between 8am and 8pm on weekdays, cars and vans dating from before January 1997, and motorbikes dating from before June 1999, can no longer be used in Paris. The ban applies to approximately 10% of all cars registered in the city. Buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles dating from before October 2001 have been banned from the city centre since July 2015.
Since 1991, European standards in terms of vehicle emissions have become more and more stringent, requiring manufacturers to improve anti-pollution technology on a continual basis. This is why older vehicles have higher pollution levels and why, in Paris, the anti-pollution plan is due to be applied to other, more recent vehicles in the years to come.
It’s certainly in the city’s interests to cut down on vehicle emissions drastically. Air pollution is responsible for over 2 000 deaths in the city every year, yet the new ban hasn’t been welcomed by everyone – especially those who are directly affected.
In order to soften the blow, Paris is offering 400 euros to those people who live in Paris and who will have to stop using, or replace, their car. This money will come in the form of one of three things: a discount applied to an annual Navigo (Paris’ Oyster) card, a subscription for the Vélib’ bike rental service, or the reimbursement of a purchased bike. Those affected will also have the opportunity to get a 50% discount on an annual subscription for Autolib’, Paris’ electric car rental service.
Somewhat surprisingly, Paris is the first French city to introduce a measure designed to reduce inner city vehicle emissions. 230 other European cities have already done so, including London, Milan and Stockholm. This article from Le Monde presents a map of the cities concerned.
A pain in the backside for those affected? Undoubtedly, but we must think about the bigger picture. You have to be cruel to be kind.