Paris Says ‘Non’ To Cars For A Day In Bid To Cut Pollution

Paris has announced that on September 27, 2015 — two months before the summit on climate change — there will be no cars allowed on the streets. Anne Hidalgo presided over the no cars for a day start.

The act is more than one day environmental savings, but also to demonstrate that cars are unnecessary for a normal day’s operation. They mayor’s long term plans are a car-free Paris.

“Paris can operate without cars.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo presided over today’s (September 27) “day without cars,” two months before the city hosts the global summit on climate change.

Themes at the summit will be:

  1. Leadership and innovation in business, finance and governments
  2. New technologies for industries, cities and regions
  3. Public and private partnerships and projects
  4. Green funds, investments and climate finance

Car free days take place in other cities. Vancouver conducted the same car free for a day exercise on September 22, 2015. The organisation of such events are monumental and involve year-long media and government lobbying to assure the event takes place. The message being sent is that cities want clean air and can achieve it (partly) by ending car travel as we know it.

Paris continues to struggle with record levels of pollution. In fact, Paris has the reputation in Europe as the smog capital, due to city subsidies of diesel fuel and private car ownership. Citizens have been asked not to drive on even or odd days, depending on the last digit of the license plate number.

All major world cities are suffering air pollution. Despite the Congestion Zone, London still has pollution levels outside EU regulations.

PUTNEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Exhaust fumes from a car in Putney High Street on January 10, 2013 in Putney, England. Local media are reporting local environmental campaigners claims that levels of traffic pollutants, mostly nitrogen dioxide, have breached upper safe limits in the busy street in south west London.
PUTNEY, ENGLAND – JANUARY 10: Exhaust fumes from a car in Putney High Street on January 10, 2013 in Putney, England. Local media are reporting local environmental campaigners claims that levels of traffic pollutants, mostly nitrogen dioxide, have breached upper safe limits in the busy street in south west London.

On March 20, 2015, Paris was, for a brief time, the most polluted city in the world. As the map below shows, air pollution is biggest in areas of densest populations, i.e. cities.

MATLAB Handle Graphics.
MATLAB Handle Graphics

Of particular concern is the unique concentration of the particulate ammonium nitrate, a result of diesel fumes and fertiliser chemicals, which aggravates existing lung conditions and raises the risk of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) to those exposed. Symptoms may include: coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath, or even suffocation. Paris is literally suffocating under its own smog and this is overburdening the health services with increases in asthma and chronic lung infection.

[Images by Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images MATLAB, Earth Observatory / NASA]

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