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Paris to repeat traffic restrictions in anti-pollution battle

Paris during the pollution peak of March 2014
Paris during the pollution peak of March 2014 Reuters/Charles Platiau

Paris's emergency measures to fight a pollution peak last March had a limited effect, an air-quality monitors' report said Wednesday. The French capital's recently elected mayor is to propose rapid-response traffic restrictions in an anti-pollution plan she will present to the city council on Monday.

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The Eiffel Tower was barely visible last March due to soaring pollution that was declared a health hazard to the capital's citizens.

A report published Wednesday by Airparif, an NGO that monitors air quality, revealed that, despite the general decrease of the level of air pollutants in 2013, the capital’s atmosphere is still not meeting requirements made by European standards.

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It also reviewed the results of the measures to fight March's smog.

The government made public transport free and introduced a restriciton on cars based on licence plate numbers, banning those ending in even numbers one day and odd numbers the next.

This policy only reduced fine particle pollution by six per cent, according to the analysis.

“Alternating circulation allowed heavy emitting vehicles to keep on circulating," Airparif engineer Amélie Fritz told RFI. "In the future we will need to have a better identification system based not on licence plates but on the level of emission. That would improve the results, depending on meteorological conditions. We also need to work on the chronic level of pollution. Traffic is the major issue.”

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has drawn up a battle plan that she will present to the city council on 19 May.

It proposes making residential parking free of charge and will stop the use of diesel vehicles in for municipal vehicles by the end of 2014, a measure that is expected to cost five million euros.

Hidalgo plans to keep the alternate traffic scheme and wants it implemented as soon as dangerous pollution levels are observed in the capital.

 

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