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ENVIRONMENT

France bans heated terraces as part of climate change fight

The Environment Ministry estimated that outdoor heating was producing 500,000 tonnes of CO2 in France every year - the equivalent of the average emissions from 300,000 cars. Now, the government has banned it.

Outside heaters on terraces like this one are now banned in France.
Outside heaters on terraces like this one are now banned in France. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

It is now illegal for French cafes, bars, restaurants and other establishments to operate heated terraces. The ban, brought in on March 31st, is the result of various decrees put in place to fight climate change and reduce energy consumption. 

“The use of heating systems or other air-cooling technology that consumes energy in the public space and functions outside is banned,” reads the law. 

Some French cities, such as Lyon, already had bans in place. 

There are four exemptions to the rule: 

  • Closed tents at circuses and funfairs are permitted to use heating;
  • Mobile installations at cultural, sporting or temporary festive events can use heating – if they are covered/have protection from the rain;
  • Waiting areas in stations, ports and airports may still use outdoor heating; 
  • Bars, restaurants and cafés where the terrace area is covered and has sealed lateral faces, connected to the outer wall of the establishment with an airtight joint, can also use outdoor heaters (if local authorities do not object). 
  • Restaurants can still use outdoor heaters if they are located in an interior courtyard, rather than on street-facing terraces.
  • Those found breaking the rule can be given fines of up to €1,500 – an amount that can be surpassed in the case of repeat offences. 

The reasoning behind the new rule is that outdoor heaters are incredibly bad for the environment. It initially was recommended as a proposition of the Citizen’s Convention on Climate – an initiative whereby members of the public were asked to provide ideas for tackling climate change. 

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The French Environment Ministry estimated that the country’s outdoor heating produced 500,000 tonnes of CO2 annually – the equivalent to the average yearly emissions from 300,000 cars. 

While environmentalists welcome the measure – one they have been campaigning for for years – some business owners will be worried. 

Dominic Dettomme, the owner of the Jean Jaurès cafe in Paris’ 19th arrondissement told The Local previously that a ban on outdoor heating could cut his turnover by 30-40 percent. 

“I don’t think a few heating lamps in Paris pollute more than all the huge boats that cross international waters on a daily basis,” he said.

The impact of the heating ban on bars, restaurants and cafés will probably not be felt until the Autumn, when temperatures begin to drop again. 

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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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