PARIS – Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for diesel cars to be banned from the French capital by 2020 and said pedestrian-only neighborhoods should be created in the city center as part of a plan to fight pollution.
Hidalgo told the Journal de Dimanche in an interview published Sunday that her antipollution plan will be discussed at a city council meeting on Tuesday.
“I want to see the end of diesel in Paris by 2020,” she said, adding that exceptions can be made for low-income car owners to allow them to use old vehicles only occasionally.
“Today 60 percent of Parisians already do not have cars, compared with 40 percent in 2001. Things are changing quickly.”
Hidalgo’s plan also includes limits on the tourist buses that clog Paris streets, banning trucks from cutting through the city on their way elsewhere, and adding electric vans to the city’s car-sharing scheme.
Driving on some streets that have become “canyons of pollution” such as the Champs Elysees or Rue de Rivoli could be limited to only low-emission cars and trucks, she said.
In proposing a raft of antipollution measures, Hidalgo is building on the efforts of her predecessor and mentor, former Mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
He championed bike and car rental schemes, expanded bus and bicycle lanes, and reduced speed limits, as he sought to wean Parisians off cars in a bid to make the city more livable.
Some 84 percent of Paris residents see fighting pollution as a priority and 54 percent supported a diesel ban in the city by 2020, according a poll of 804 people carried out by Ifop for the Journal de Dimanche.
Diesel engines are around 20 percent more fuel-efficient than gasoline engines, so generate less carbon dioxide. But they emit other pollutants that health researchers, including the World Health Organization, have found to cause health problems, including cancer.
Other major cities including London, Rome and New York have also tried to reduce their reliance on cars by pedestrianizing certain zones or adopting so-called “congestion charging,” which slaps a daily fee on people who drive in city centers.
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