PARIS – The eight French cities planning to ban some polluting vehicles from their streets in 2013 have begun preparing the details of their new rules, but Paris is pushing for a regulation that would let it prohibit vehicles that emit too much carbon dioxide as well.
France’s Environmental Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has published a list of vehicles cities could ban, based on what amounts to their model year.
For example, a city could forbid trucks that don’t meet Euro 3 exhaust emissions standards, which means model years that date back before Sept. 30, 2001; all cars and light-utility vehicles that are not in compliance with Euro 2 (built before Sept. 30, 1997); and diesel-powered LUVs that fail Euro I (built before Dec. 31, 2000).
If the nation were to adopt such a ban, it would cut oxides of nitrogen emissions 19% and 10 micron diesel particulate matter by 27%.
But Denis Baupin, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of sustainable development, says the idea of the clean-air zones, called ZAPA, does not go far enough because they still will permit more modern vehicles that are “the most powerful, the biggest consumers of fossil energy and the least adapted to cities.”
At the same time, "only the oldest diesel cars that are the least expensive” will be penalized, which means only those least able to afford it will be prohibited from the area, he says in a statement.
That argument has been taken up by an association of automobile owners, called the 40 Millions d’Automobilistes, that says the ZAPA idea has good intentions but in practice will be unfair to those who own older cars.
Such objections are unlikely to change the course of events. The ZAPA regions are aimed at reducing air pollution that causes health problems. Already some 180 European cities have similar rules in effect. While Paris would like to use the ZAPA rules to ban SUVs and other large gas hogs, it’s not expected to prevail.
A document from France’s ecology ministry cites examples of success. Berlin has seen a 15% reduction in NOx, while Stockholm, which has had similar rules since 1996, has seen a 40% drop in particulate matter.
The ministry says 52% of NOx and 12% of particulate matter in France comes from heavy trucks. But in cities with stop-and-go traffic, trucks contribute 65% of NOx and 85% of particulate matter.
The eight French cities participating in the ZAPA effort – Paris, Saint-Denis, Nice, Lyon, Grenoble, Aix, Clermont-Ferrand and Bordeaux – will introduce new regulations next year for an experimental period of three to 4.5 years, with annual reports on the project’s success.
Studies now under way will determine, in part, what types of vehicle are in use in each city. Cities are free to decide what category of vehicle is banned from which streets or areas, as well as how to enforce the rules and they will pay for enforcement, themselves. Fines are expected to be limited to E68 ($99).
Police cars, ambulances, military vehicles, cars owned by the disabled and electric vehicles will not be affected.