Paris clamps down on older diesel cars

The record-breaking temperatures recorded in France last week may have fizzled but the cars that were banned from Paris during the heatwave will remain off the road under new measures to banish smog.

Starting on Monday, the list of older, more polluting vehicles banned from the French capital during daytime will be expanded to include diesel cars, trucks and motorbikes dating back over 13 years — a move targeting tens of thousands of vehicles.

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Motorists who flout the ban, which was trialled during the hot spell, face a 68-euro ($77) fine, rising to 135 euros for trucks and buses.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, the authorities are also clamping down on polluters in the 47 districts that make up the greater Paris region.

Starting Monday, the existing Paris ban on diesel vehicles of over 18 years and petrol vehicles of over 21 years will be extended to a new “low-emissions” belt surrounding the city.

The measure targets 30,000 vehicles in the greater Paris region, which is home to around 5.5 million people.

Unlike in central Paris, however, offenders in the suburbs, where car dependency is greater, face no punishment for the first two years of the ban.

The government agreed to a two-year punishment-free “learning period” after resistance from some mayors who feared that the ban could rekindle the anger of the “yellow vest” protests, which erupted last year over fuel price hikes.

“We don’t want to force the environment on people, but rather that it be accepted as the outcome of dialogue,” the head of the Grand Paris region, which is made up of Paris and its closest suburbs, Patrick Ollier, told reporters last week.

Air pollution causes 48,000 extra deaths a year in France, according to the health service, making it the country’s second-biggest killer after smoking, ahead of alcohol.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist, has been on a crusade to banish the veil of smog that periodically shrouds the French capital by giving more space to cyclists, pedestrians and public transport.

The city aims to phase out the use of diesel cars by the time it hosts the Summer Olympics in 2024.

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government has also made environmental protection a priority.

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