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ENVIRONMENT

Paris postpones its ban on older and polluting vehicles until 2023

A plan to ban older cars and other vehicles from Paris and its suburbs - due to be rolled out this summer - has been postponed until at least 2023, city authorities have announced.

Paris postpones its ban on older and polluting vehicles until 2023
Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

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.

READ ALSO How does France’s Crit’Ait vehicle sticker system work?

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.

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ENVIRONMENT

VIDEO: ‘Lost’ Orca whale heading up France’s Seine river

A young Orca whale that is apparently lost has been spotted heading up the Seine in northern France.

VIDEO: 'Lost' Orca whale heading up France's Seine river

The young whale was first spotted about a week ago near the port of Le Havre, around the Pont de Normandie, while the most recent sighting was further inland – about 20km from Rouen, in the Eure region.

France’s BFMTV managed to catch a video of the whale:

Experts think that the young male was separated from his group, and might be on the search for another. This typically happens when a matriarch in the pod dies.

“They are very social animals, so it is not easy for them to be alone,” explained Delphine Eloi of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group to RTL. Eloi went on to explain that the orca is likely in poor health, as its dorsal fin appears to be completely round. 

Killer whales, which despite their name belong to the dolphin family, are occasionally spotted in the English Channel but such sightings are considered rare, let alone in a river.

“Its life is in danger. We are really very, very worried. Its state of health is very poor,” said Gerard Mauger, vice president of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group. 

“The more it stays in fresh water, the more this will accelerate the degradation of its state of health,” he told AFP.

“It is far from the sea. It is really complicated to find solutions to encourage it to head to salt water.”

He said the animal is “very thin” but likely weighs over a tonne.

Experts have reminded the public that the whale is likely not dangerous to people – there has never been a reported Orca attack on a human in the wild – though it is still advisable to keep a safe distance from it.

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