Authorities have gradually been removing the oldest and most-polluting vehicles from Paris streets over the past several years with the introduction of mandatory emission ranking stickers, known as Crit’air.
The move was spearheaded by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, part of her long-term project to make Paris a greener city, which has also included rolling out many kilometres of extra cycle paths and increasing pedestrianised areas.
She has pledged to ban diesel vehicles outright in the city by the opening of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, and is planning a near-total traffic ban in the central arrondissements of the capital, one of the densest urban landscapes in Europe.
On July 1st 2022, the ban on older cars in the greater Paris region was to be extended to Crit’air Class 3 vehicles, which include all gasoline/petrol-engine cars made before January 2006 – and all diesel-engine cars from before 2011.
The measure affects an estimated 1.2 million vehicles.
However “the next stage for the Low-Emission Zone… has been postponed to at least 2023,” the Paris Metropolitan Authority (MGP) said late on Tuesday.
It attributed the delay to a need for additional financial aid for low-income households to buy more recent cars, and to the rollout of standardised radars for automated checks.
Older cars, light trucks and motorcycles will be prohibited from 8am to 8pm on weekdays within Paris and its nearest suburbs, a zone with a population of some 7.2 million people.
The city already operates a scheme in which certain vehicle types are banned from the city if pollution goes above a certain level – which happens regularly during the summer months.
The MGP says on its website that similar schemes “already adopted in 231 European cities or regions… have proved particularly effective in cutting traffic emissions.”
But critics say the crackdown penalises in particular suburban residents and workers who do not have easy access to efficient public transportation, forcing them to rely more on their cars.