Cars restricted in Paris in effort to clear dangerous smog

Unseasonably warm weather exacerbating diesel pollution in French capital

Tourists enjoy the sunny weather in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris. Swathes of France, including the French capital, are on maximum alert over air pollution. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Tourists enjoy the sunny weather in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris. Swathes of France, including the French capital, are on maximum alert over air pollution. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

 

France will introduce driving restrictions in Paris tomorrow to tackle dangerous pollution levels, the first such ban for twenty years as politicians try to get rid of health-threatening smog days before municiple elections.

Paris is more prone to smog than other European capitals because of France’s diesel subsidies and its high number of private car drivers. A week-long spell of unseasonably warm, sunny weather has recently exacerbated the problem.

Under the scheme, drivers may only use their cars on alternate days, according to the odd or even numbers on their licence plates. Free public transport, including cycle and electric car-sharing schemes, was introduced last week as a visible haze hung over Paris streets.

“Our core objective is to ensure public safety because we want to end this pollution,” environment minister Philippe Martin told a news conference, warning that the air quality was likely to worsen tomorrow.

Last week European Environment Agency (EEA) figures for Thursday showed there was 147 microgrammes of particulate matter (PM) per cubic metre of air in Paris - compared with 114 in Brussels, 104 in Amsterdam, 81 in Berlin and 79.7 in London.

Political opponents and car associations criticised the decision, saying it would be tough to police, and accused the Socialist government of conceding to pressure from its coalition Green partners ahead of local elections in late March.

“This is impossible to enforce, stupid and an attempt to win votes,” Pierre Chasseray, president of drivers’ lobby 40 Millions d’Autombolistes, told French televion and newspapers.

Opposition UMP chief Jean-Francois Cope and mayor of Meaux in the suburbs of Paris, said there was a lot of confusion about the scheme.

“The ecologists have applied a lot of pressure on the government and the decision was rushed.. It lacks coherence, explanation and - on the ground, as a mayor from one of Paris’s suburbs - it’s panic,” he told Europe 1 radio.

The last restricted driving scheme was introduced in October 1997 in response to pollution from heavy diesel fumes. It lasted one day.

Reuters

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.