Paris drives old cars off its streets

Fri Jul 1, 2016 8:33am EDT
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By Brian Love and Lucien Libert

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris banned old, exhaust-belching cars from its streets on Friday in a war on air pollution that environmentalists hope will also drive dirty vehicles from the centers of other European cities.

Air pollution, in large part caused by fine particulate fuel emissions, kills 48,000 people each year in France, some 400,000 in Europe and around 3.7 million worldwide, data published by France's public health agency this month showed.

Any car registered before Jan. 1, 1997, will be barred from the city's streets from Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Some owners protested by parking their vehicles near the National Assembly and Champs Elysees avenue to denounce a ban they say will hurt poor people most and slash the resale value of their vehicles.

"I drive 50 km per week, I don't have the means to change vans so I will continue using it, I'll get fined every week and there you go," said Marc Martin, who uses his aging Peugeot van to deliver picture frames to clients.

"And if it goes too far, I'll close my business, people will lose their jobs, that's it. What can I say, not much. This law is pathetic."

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says the ban could be extended in 2020 to all combustion-engine cars more than nine years old.

After an initial tolerance period, motorists who flout the ban face fines of 35 euros ($39), an amount that is set to jump from the end of the year.   Continued...

A man holds a leaflets as French police speaks to a driver with a car older than 20 years to explain a new law to fight air pollution at the Place de la Nation square in Paris, France, July 1, 2016.  REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen