Paris: Curbing Auto Emissions for Cleaner Air


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Paris: Curbing Auto Emissions

Paris Curbs Diesel Emissions

Paris, the City of Light, is fast turning into the City of Smog, with high levels of pollution fuelled by car emissions. According to a WHO study, Paris has some of the highest levels of air pollution in Europe. France conducted analyses of air quality in several major cities. These showed a high level of pollution from car emissions. The analyses registered a concentrated amount of ultrafine particles, the type emitted by vehicles in use on the streets. The highest levels of these came from the older model diesel vehicles, especially those built to the Euro 4 standard. In light of this finding, all cars produced prior to 1997 are banned from the city of Paris on weekdays.

Drivers on the streets of Paris will have to put color coded stickers on the windshields of their vehicles. This will enable easy identification by the police of those vehicles with the highest levels of diesel emissions. The system is called Crit’Air. Prior to the sticker system officials had introduced the rather impractical system that saw vehicles with odd or even numbered plates banned from the streets on alternate days.

How does the Crit’Air system work?

All vehicles will be issued color-coded stickers. There are six colors, based on the type of vehicle, the date of registration, its energy efficiency and level of emission. Green is the cleanest category and grey the worst. Green is for electric hybrid, and hydrogen cars. Low emission cars also might get special access to certain parts of the city that more polluting cars won't have.

Under the Crit’Air system, vehicles registered before 1997 and trucks and buses registered before 2001will get a grey sticker. These will be banned from the streets in Paris. France has around 32 million vehicles on its streets, and approximately 6% fall into this category. Some have criticized the Crit’Air system, saying that it targets those who are unable to afford newer vehicles.

The next category is brown. Vehicles registered between 2001 and 2005 will fall into this category. These account for 14% of vehicles. The authorities plan on extending the ban to these as well. The only vehicles that will be legally allowed on the capital’s streets will be those conforming to the Euro 5 emission standards, and a small number that come into the category of antique cars and collectable vehicles.

The Crit’Air system will also apply to all vehicles registered in other countries. These will have time till March 2017 to get their stickers. Meanwhile, the authorities in Paris are also encouraging people to use public transport wherever possible, and are issuing special ‘pollution tickets,’ valid for a full day’s travel within the capital, for €3.60.

Approximately 600,000 vehicles per day use the city’s road network. Those found without stickers will get a hefty fine. Cars will be fined €69 and lorries €168.

Other French cities are using the sticker system. Paris, however, plans to make their system permanent. The authorities are introducing other measures to reduce traffic. Some roads could be closed to traffic; other areas may be ‘pedestrian only’ zones. Residents in Paris support the new system and are hopeful that it will go a long way towards clearing the city’s pollution problem.


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