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What will change in France from October 1st

As France rings in another month, a slew of new rules and regulations come into play. Here is what you need to know.

What will change in France from October 1st
The French can enjoy a cut in gas prices from October 1st. Photo: AFP

October 1st brings a raft of reforms and new laws that have come into force.

Here are a few to be aware of so you don't get caught out.

Gas prices to be cut by 1.4 percent

Another cut in gas prices – this time by 1.4 percent compared to September – is good news for customers of provider Engie. Prices have now dropped 7.8 percent since the start of the year.

Easier to change phone operators

As of October 1st, it will be easier to change telephone operators while still keeping your home phone number the same. How? Simply use your 12 digit RIO number, a system that has already been in place for many phone operators, but which is now a legal requirement for all.

Keeping your same mobile number while changing operators is already possible in France.

Clearer information on premium phone numbers

The pricing system for France's premium phone numbers (those beginning with 08 or with only four digits) has been a nightmare at best. New rules have sought to simplify the tariffs for these calls, with a new colour coding system. 

  • Green numbers are totally free (0800-0805)
  • Grey numbers come at a premium cost per minute, but are free to connect to (0806-0809)
  • Purple is for paid services (081, 082, 089 and 118)

Costly butts

From October 1st, anyone caught throwing a cigarette butt on the ground in Paris will be charged €68. This is almost double the previous fine of €35. 
 
And it's no surprise authorities are cracking down – there are 350 tonnes of mégots, as they are known in French, collected each year in Paris alone.
 
Paris enforces €68 fines for tossing cigarettes
 
Airbnb tax changes
 
Tourists in Paris will now be charged a tax for using home-sharing service Airbnb, which will amount to €0.83 per person per night. The fee will be paid upon booking, and will gradually extend to include other cities in France. It was previously up to the home owner to collect any taxes and pass them on to the Town Hall, although this step was often overlooked. 

Airbnb starts charging users tourist tax in Paris

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CLIMATE

‘Progress’ in Paris climate change talks

Ministers and negotiators from more than 75 nations have made headway in talks ahead of a crunch UN climate summit in Paris, but "the task ahead is considerable", France's foreign minister said Tuesday.

'Progress' in Paris climate change talks
Hollande and other leaders at the 'pre-COP' talks which concluded Tuesday. Photo: Stephanie De Sakutin/AFP

Laurent Fabius, who will preside over the November 30th-December 11th conference in Paris, told journalists the three days of talks, which ended Tuesday, had been an important step and “progress has been made on at least five points”.

But he warned “the task ahead is considerable”.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres added: “It continues to be entirely possible to come to an agreement… despite all the challenges in front of us.”

Fabius announced that 117 heads of state and government – including US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi of India and Russia's Vladimir Putin – have confirmed they will attend the summit, tasked with inking a pact to stave off dangerous levels of global warming.

A rough draft of that hoped-for agreement has been drawn up by rank-and-file diplomats, with ministers set to sign the final deal at the end of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris.

The deal will be underpinned by national pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels blamed for climate change.

The “pre-COP” meeting sought to identify areas of potential compromise on issues still dividing nations and so avoid a repeat of the 2009 Copenhagen summit, which ended without a binding global pact.

Fabius said there was momentum towards ensuring that countries ratchet up their efforts to slash carbon pollution beyond pledges submitted ahead of the
summit.

“A review should take place every five years… to prepare an upward revision of national plans,” he said. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude oil exporter, filed its climate pledge on Tuesday, saying up to 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year would be “avoided” by 2030.

 'Matter of survival'

Current national plans would yield average global temperatures three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times – far beyond the 2C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) limit that scientists say is the threshold for dangerous warming.

“The COP 21 will put in place the mechanism to close the gap,” Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru's environment minister, told AFP. “Getting to 2C depends on boosting our ambition.”

Enshrining the principle that nations would not be allowed to backtrack on their carbon-cutting promises is also gaining ground, Fabius said.

Another make-or-break issue on the table in the three-day talks was money for developing nations to help them decarbonize their economies, and shore up defences against unavoidable climate impacts.

“Climate finance was very central” to the discussions, said Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of the Environment and Energy for the Maldives, one of many small island  states whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels.

“Adaptation is a matter of survival for us,” he told AFP. “Nobody wants to leave the Maldives, we are there to stay.”

African leaders said they were looking to the talks for solutions to electrify the continent, grow its economies and keep their young people from fleeing abroad.

The 195-nation UN climate forum has officially adopted the goal of limiting global warming to 2C, but many vulnerable and poor nations are pushing for that threshold to be lowered to 1.5C.

Recent scientific studies have shown that even if the 2C goal is attained, the impact could be devastating in many parts of the world.

 A 2C rise would submerge land currently occupied by 280 million people, while an increase of 4C would cover areas home to 600 million, according to a study published by Climate Central, a US-based research group.
 

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