France’s capital, Paris, is all set to ban half of the city’s cars from the road on Monday, in a bid to curb high levels of smog, which briefly made the French capital’s air the most polluted in the world.
The city’s authorities have stated that, from Monday, only cars with odd-numbered license plates will be seen in the city and surrounding towns of the City of Light. However, public vehicles such as taxis, ambulance and electric cars are exempted from the ban. This is the third time in the city’s history that such measures have been implemented, with the last occasion being in March 2014.
Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s Mayor, said, “I am delighted the state has agreed to put in place a partial driving ban on Monday, which I have been requesting for several days.”
The French authorities stated that they were forced to take this decision after Paris’ air pollution level became worse than Delhi, India and Peking, China this week. The air quality index number of the city went above the critical level and was considered “harmful”.
Many environmentalists had criticized the French authorities over a lack of long-term initiatives to address the city’s high levels of pollution. A measure set to become law in July will ban diesel vehicles manufactured before 2001, which are believed to be among the worst polluters, from the city’s roads entirely.
However, the French Association of Transport Users (FNAUT), was unimpressed, and has blamed “uninspired politicians” for failing to take the problem seriously.
Fabrice Michel, spokesperson of the FNAUT, said, “We need long-term solutions including extra charges on heavy goods vehicles which the government backtracked from implementing last year. Paris also needs a congestion charge inside the city. This would reduce circulation and raise revenue. But all our politicians seem to do is wait for the rain and when it doesn’t come, they blame the weather for their failings.”