Innovation That Matters

Paris tackles smog with ban on vintage cars


The French capital is banning all cars made before 1997 from its roads on weekdays, to reduce pollution levels in the city.

Pollution levels in cities are a global problem. We have seen various innovative ways of monitoring the inner-city air quality with the intent of helping citizens avoid the worst area — London has equipped its pigeons with backpacks, while Toronto has a mapping app that shows cyclists the cleanest routes to their destination. Now, Paris has its own plan: the French capital is banning all cars made before 1997.

Despite being only 10 percent of the city’s cars, pre-1997 models create half of the pollution. From July 1, all cars registered before 1997 will be banned from Paris city centre on weekdays. The new rules will continue to ban cars older than 10 years; so in 2025, for example, no cars registered before 2016 will be allowed. Though it is true that many newer cars have improved pollution levels, some criticism for the initiative raises the concern that the ban will have the biggest effect on poorer citizens, who are the least able to upgrade their cars to more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Could similar initiatives be used to tackle pollution levels in other cities?


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