Paris lim­its ve­hi­cle use to fight pol­lu­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By REUTERS in Paris

Paris an­nounced li­cense-plate-based driv­ing re­stric­tions for a third day in a row on Wed­nes­day and planned to ex­pand a ban on old cars, as the French cap­i­tal ex­pe­ri­enced its worst air pol­lu­tion in a decade.

On Tues­day and Wed­nes­day, Paris banned cars from the road based on whether their li­cense plates ended with odd or even num­bers. It will ban half of all traf­fic again on Thurs­day.

The air qual­ity in­dex in Paris from Tues­day to Thurs­day was be­tween 130 and 150.

The level of PM10 — par­tic­u­late mat­ter that is less than 10 mi­crons in di­am­e­ter and harm­ful to health — was at 80 or more mi­cro­grams per cu­bic meter on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, and the same level was fore­cast for Fri­day.

Other French cities such as Lyon were also plan­ning bans as clouds of pol­lu­tion hang over many Euro­pean cities due to a lack of the winds that nor­mally blow in off the At­lantic Ocean.

It is only the fourth time in 20 years that Paris has im­posed such a ban, and the first time it ap­plies for con­sec­u­tive days. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties around Paris also im­posed the ban.

With its fa­mous Eif­fel Tower shrouded in a gray­ish haze and some tourists don­ning masks, the city also made all pub­lic trans­porta­tion, res­i­den­tial park­ing and bi­cy­cle and elec­tric car pro­grams free.

“Cars are poi­son­ing the air. We need to take pre­ven­tive mea­sures,” said Herve Le­v­ife, a Paris trans­porta­tion of­fi­cial.

The city also planned to step up its fight against chronic pol­lu­tion by grad­u­ally ban­ning the old­est and most pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles from the city cen­ter, he said.

“We want these bans to au­to­mat­i­cally take ef­fect when the pol­lu­tion ex­ceeds a cer­tain level, not have to ne­go­ti­ate them with the govern­ment each time,” Le­v­ife added.

From mid-Jan­uary, Paris will be­come the first French city to launch a sys­tem that will re­quire all cars to have a col­or­coded sticker in­di­cat­ing their age and pol­lu­tion level. The stick­ers will al­low po­lice to con­trol which ve­hi­cles can drive in the city cen­ter.

Cars 20 years old and older have al­ready been banned from Paris roads since July 1, and around 120,000 stick­ers have been dis­trib­uted. But par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­gram so far has been vol­un­tary, and en­force­ment is scarce.

Be­gin­ning July 1, the city will im­pose bans on diesel-pow­ered cars and vans that were first put into cir­cu­la­tion in 2001 and trucks first reg­is­tered in 2006.

BENOIT TESSIER / REUTERS

French po­lice check an auto reg­is­tra­tion in Paris on Tues­day af­ter au­thor­i­ties im­posed re­stric­tions on ve­hi­cle use based on li­cense num­bers to re­duce traf­fic and pol­lu­tion.

FRAN­COIS MORI / AP

Smog ob­scures the Eif­fel Tower on Wed­nes­day as Paris saw its worst pol­lu­tion in a decade.

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