As France suffers through a record heat wave, air pollution rates intensify. The solution? A Parisian car ban for less eco-friendly automobiles — as much as 60 percent of total vehicles in the city — until the hot weather breaks.
The car ban has been creeping up on Parisians since 2017, when Paris issued a system of “Crit’Air” colored stickers with numbers ranging from 0 to 5. The worst polluters, diesels made in the year 2000 or earlier, get the 5 ranking and have been banned from central Paris since July 2017. This July, the ban extends to cars with level 4 stickers: diesel cars registered from 2001-2005, pre-2004 motorbikes and trucks from 2006-2009. These vehicles aren’t allowed within Paris’ A86 ring road area weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
But during this hot weather, level 3 vehicles are temporarily banned from A86. This affects 60 percent of Parisian drivers. Only hydrogen or electric vehicles, petrol cars registered after 2006 and diesels from 2011 or later can legally drive during the heat wave. Hydrogen and electric cars warrant a green sticker with the coveted 0 ranking.
Many drivers are upset. Some are risking the fines — €68 for cars and motorbikes and up to €135 for trucks.
“You have to face reality, which is the increase in air pollution when there is a heat wave, like the one we are experiencing at the moment,” France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, François de Rugy, told the French press.
Other anti-air pollution measures include offering more free residential parking to encourage public transport usage and significantly reducing speed limits on motorways.
Christophe Najdovski, deputy transport director for the city of Paris, told the French press, “The quality of the air is improving in Ile-de-France, but we want to speed up the process. It’s a question of public health.”
Image via Pedro Szekely