France seems to be extremely worried about its air quality. So much, in fact, that it has recently confirmed that it will enforce a partial ban on motoring in Paris and surrounding areas. This new ban started on March 17 and will be in place until France can get its pollution levels back under control.
This partial ban on motoring is the first time something like this has been done since 1997. The government says that very warm temperatures and the lack of wind have made pollution levels in Paris worse than normal. In fact, the European Environment Agency says that pollution levels in the capital right now are the highest they have been in nearly 16 years.
As a result of these high pollution levels, more than 30 different departments around France have been hit with maximum pollution level alerts since last week. This new ban will only allow private vehicles that run on diesel or petrol to drive on certain days. Starting on Monday, March 17, people who have license plates on their cars that end in an even number have the right to drive. Those who have a license plate ending in an odd number will have to wait until Tuesday. It will keep switching back and forth every day until the pollution level is under control.
The government did say that cars that carry at least three passengers will be exempt from this new rule. Buses, emergency vehicles, refrigerated lorries and taxis will also be exempt from this rule. That being said, it is worth nothing that all other lorries are forced to follow the same regulations as everyone else.
The environment minister for France, Philippe Martin, said that the government’s main goal here is to ensure public safety. With so much pollution in the air, the country has to find a way to reduce these levels. If people live in this high pollution for too long, it could prove to be unhealthy for them.
This announcement comes following a decision made last week to make public transport free this past weekend. The goal of this was to help to encourage people to leave their cars at home. That being said, the government did not get as much support for this as it was hoping. As a result, people will now be forced to leave their cars at home on certain days or pay a fine.
Pollution levels in France got out of control quicker than other areas because nearly 60 percent of all drivers in France use diesel engines. These engines are worse at polluting than petrol engines. Most environmental groups have blamed the fact that more people drive diesel cars on the government for encouraging people to use diesel by taxing it less. This is a practice that is still in place today. Of course, it might be a practice that is cut soon in light of recent events.