By John Irish, March 16, 2014
Photo taken on March 11, 2014 shows the Eiffel tower and Paris' roofs
through a haze of pollution. French non-governmental organization (NGO)
Ecologie Sans Frontiere (Ecology without borders) confirmed on March 11
that they had filed a criminal complaint in Paris to denounce the
'health scandal' of air pollution, as several regions of France
experienced high levels of particulate pollution.
PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) - France will introduce driving restrictions
in Paris on Monday to tackle dangerous pollution levels, the first such
ban for twenty years as politicians try to get rid of
health-threatening smog days before municiple elections.
is more prone to smog than other European capitals because of France's
diesel subsidies and its high number of private car drivers. A
week-long spell of unseasonably warm, sunny weather has recently
exacerbated the problem.
Under the scheme,
drivers may only use their cars on alternate days, according to the odd
or even numbers on their licence plates. Free public transport,
including cycle and electric car-sharing schemes, was introduced last
week as a visible haze hung over Paris streets.
core objective is to ensure public safety because we want to end this
pollution," Environment Minister Philippe Martin told a news conference
on Sunday, warning that the air quality was likely to worsen on
Last week European Environment Agency
(EEA) figures for Thursday showed there was 147 microgrammes of
particulate matter (PM) per cubic metre of air in Paris - compared with
114 in Brussels, 104 in Amsterdam, 81 in Berlin and 79.7 in London.
opponents and car associations criticised the decision, saying it
would be tough to police, and accused the Socialist government of
conceding to pressure from its coalition Green partners ahead of local
elections in late March.
"This is impossible to
enforce, stupid and an attempt to win votes," Pierre Chasseray,
president of drivers' lobby 40 Millions d'Autombolistes, told French
televion and newspapers.
Opposition UMP chief
Jean-Francois Cope and mayor of Meaux in the suburbs of Paris, said
there was a lot of confusion about the scheme.
ecologists have applied a lot of pressure on the government and the
decision was rushed.. It lacks coherence, explanation and - on the
ground, as a mayor from one of Paris's suburbs - it's panic," he told
Europe 1 radio.
The last restricted driving
scheme was introduced in October 1997 in response to pollution from
heavy diesel fumes. It lasted one day.