Paris bans old diesel cars

Officers of the Paris city prevention and security directorate speak to a man during a pollution-control operation on private vehicles in the centre of the French capital
Officers of the Paris city prevention and security directorate speak to a man during a pollution-control operation on private vehicles in the centre of the French capital
Image: AFP

Paris on Monday banned all diesel vehicles aged 13 years or over from the city centre, the latest move in a campaign to tackle pollution on the streets.

Diesel vehicles older than 18 years and petrol vehicles older than 21 years are already banned in Paris – a measure that was extended on Monday to a new “low-emissions” belt surrounding the city.

Central Paris, meanwhile, went further by also banning diesel cars, trucks and motorbikes 13 years and over – a move aimed at cleaning up the air in the smoggy city.

Motorists who flout the traffic restrictions in central Paris, which were trialled during last week’s heatwave, face a ß68 (R1,085) fine, or ß135 (R2,154) for trucks and buses.

A Greenpeace report listed Paris as the worst western European capital for small particle air pollution in 2018, with levels higher than cities such as the Philippines capital Manila or Colombian capital Bogota.

Authorities are also clamping down on polluters in the 47 districts that ring the central Paris area and that are home to about 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 the ban could rekindle the “yellow vest” protests, which erupted in late 2018 among motorists furious over fuel price hikes.

The protests quickly escalated into an anti-government revolt, marked by weekly – and often violent – demonstrations in cities around France.

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