France are to ban all cars registered before 1997 from July 1st, under new rules aimed at curbing smog and traffic problems in Paris.
Old cars are to be banned from Paris during weekdays, and all motorcycles registered before 1999 are to be barred from the roads too.
The ban was announced last year as part of an anti-pollution measure that will become progressively stricter in coming years. By 2020, the ban will extend to cover cars that were registered prior to 2010. Those who violate the rule can face a fine of up to €35 ($39), or €78 as of January 1st, 2017.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has implemented several measures aimed at reducing smog across the French capital, including a recent move to ban cars from the Champs-Élysées on the first Sunday of every month. The Socialist mayor has also moved to create more pedestrian zones at major traffic circles and along the Seine river. Last year, the city held its first-ever “day without cars,” which will be expanded to cover more neighborhoods this year.
The ban on 19-year-old cars will affect around 10 percent of all vehicles in Paris. French business daily Les Echos reported on Tuesday that Environment Minister Ségolène Royal has agreed to a plan that will classify all cars into six categories, based on their pollution levels. Vehicles will be identified by colored stickers placed on their windshields, making it easier for cities to implement traffic restrictions when smog levels spike. The environment ministry had previously pushed for a system based on just four categories, but French mayors contested the plan, calling for a more gradual transition.
“If we had stayed at four stickers, one-third of vehicles would have been suddenly forbidden from Paris on the 1st of July,” Christophe Najdovski, the adjoint in charge of transportation at Paris’ city hall, tells Le Monde. “This was unenforceable.”
Fine-particle air pollution is responsible for about 42,000 deaths per year in France, according to the World Health Organization, and a report from the French Senate last year estimated that air pollution costs the country €100 billion ($112 billion) each year.
Environmental groups have previously singled out older cars and diesel vehicles as heavy polluters, and large trucks and buses were previously banned from Paris’ city center under a law that went into effect last July. But the old-car ban has faced criticism from motorist associations such as 40 millions d’automobilistes, who say that it will disproportionately affect lower-income drivers without significant environmental impact.
“These restrictions don’t achieve anything from an environmental point of view,” Daniel Quero, president of 40 millions d’automobilistes, said in a statement this month. “The only reason that Anne Hidalgo announces these restrictions is to push cars outside of the capital, without concern for the economic and social consequences,” Quero added.