Paris mayor wants to ban diesel cars by 2020 to fight pollution

PARIS (Reuters) - The mayor of Paris 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.

An electronic road sign reads "Pollution, speed limit 60kms" on the Paris ring road, March 14, 2014, as warm and sunny weather continues in France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Anne Hidalgo told the Journal de Dimanche in an interview published on Sunday that her anti-pollution plan would be discussed at a city council meeting on December 9.

“I want to see the end of diesel in Paris by 2020,” she said, adding that there exceptions could 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 anti-pollution measures, Hidalgo is building on the efforts of her predecessor and mentor, the former Paris 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 per cent more fuel-efficient than petrol engines, so generate less carbon dioxide per mile. But they but emit other pollutants that health researchers, including the World Health Organisation, 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 pedestrianising certain zones or adopting so-called “congestion charging,” which slaps a daily fee on people who drive in city centers.

Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Catherine Evans