Eleven French cities already have low-emission zones where older, more polluting cars are either banned altogether or limited to certain hours, controlled through vehicle stickers known as Crit’Air.
But on Tuesday Environment minister Christophe Béchu announced two big expansions to the scheme;
- By the end of 2025 it will be extended to 43 urban areas – in all big cities and larger towns.
- Enforcement will be stepped up through the use of automated cameras, while fines will be increased from the current level of €68 up to a maximum of €750.
The Crit’Air system requires all drivers – including the drivers of foreign-registered vehicles – going to any of the low-emission zones to get a sticker for their vehicle. The sticker assigns the vehicle a number from 0 (all electric vehicles) to 5 (the most polluting).
Local authorities then set their own rules, with some banning vehicles with a 4 or 5 sticker altogether, while others only allow them during evenings or weekends. In some places bans are extended on days when pollution levels rise.
You can find how to get the sticker HERE.
After a meeting of the first inter-ministerial committee to monitor the low-emission zones (zones à faible émission or ZFE in French) on Tuesday, the minister announced a nationwide project to standardise regulations and ban certain vehicles from the zones, which generally encompass city and town centres.
From January 1st, 2023, Crit’Air 5 vehicles (diesel vehicles produced before 2001) will be affected by the ban. This will be followed on January 1st, 2024 by Crit’Air 4 (diesel before 2006) and on January 1st 2025 by Crit’Air 3 (diesel before 2011 and petrol/gasoline before 2006).
At present enforcement of the scheme is patchy and depends on local police making traffic stops to pull over drivers who either don’t have the sticker, or who are driving in areas where they are not permitted. However Béchu said that this will move to an automated control system involving cameras, although he did not reveal the exact detail of how this will work.
Transport minister Clément Beaune added: “The ZFEs are a necessity for ecological and public health reasons. It is necessary to do the maximum so that the automated control sanction is developed as soon as possible.”
Crit’Air violations will become a class 4 traffic offence – which attracts a maximum penalty of €750.