Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to make Paris a diesel-free city by 2020. The first step, she said Wednesday, will be to ban the “most polluting” diesel delivery trucks and buses by July 2015.
And from July 2016, Hidalgo wants the ban to be extended to all vehicles over a fixed emission level (precisely what this level is remains unclear).
In an interview with left-leaning daily Le Monde on Wednesday, Hidalgo said Paris wanted to “follow the example of 200 European cities” that have created low-emission zones.
“We are determined to act quickly,” Paris’s Socialist mayor told Le Monde. “The fine particles [from diesel fumes and responsible for around 42,000 deaths a year in France] emitted mostly by public buses and coaches are a major health concern.”
“It is true that older diesel vehicles are more polluting than modern ones,” she said. “But the filters in even the latest models can’t get rid of the most dangerous fine particles.”
July’s first implementation of the ban, she said, would cover the whole of the city within (but not including) the périphérique ring road that separates the City of Lights from the outlying “banlieus”, or suburbs.
The move will not be “overly punitive” against city businesses and the delivery companies whose vehicles line the streets of Paris in the early hours of each morning, she insisted, adding that “there will be significant financial incentives for these business to invest in less polluting vehicles”.
“This will include up to 50 percent of the cost price, with low-rate loans to cover the rest,” she said. “We are already in talks with banks and shops as well as transport companies to get this in place.”
Other incentives to help Parisians and city businesses stop using polluting vehicles will include reduced monthly public transport costs and cut-priced membership of the city’s ever-expanding “Autolib” electric car-sharing scheme, which has been a runaway success since it was launched in late 2012.
Homeowners’ co-operatives that exist in almost every Parisian apartment block will also be encouraged to invest in electric car-charging points and secure bike shelters.
“Paris is going to create a huge network of car-charging points with attractive rates to encourage use of electric cars for business as well as car-sharing,” Hidalgo said, adding that the long-term plan was to allow free parking to electric or hybrid cars entering the city as well as free night-time recharging.
Paris is more prone to smog than other European capitals because France subsidises the cost of diesel and because Parisians own more private cars than in comparable cities, such as London.
A pollution peak in March 2014 caused the city authorities to ban half of all vehicles, allowing licence plates ending in an odd number or even number on alternate days.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) reported that Paris had an average of 147 microgrammes of particulate matter (PM) per cubic metre of air – compared with 114 in Brussels, 104 in Amsterdam, 81 in Berlin and 79.7 in London.