Parisian Pollution

Capital cities across the world are seen as opportunities for many to start new and more prosperous lives.

However, while these beacons of hope bring in new streams people annually, these people may end up overpopulating a city.

One such city is Paris, the capital of France. Crowded cities are quickly polluted, but this past Monday the French officials had to take matters into their own hands as the air was no longer safe.

The European Environment Agency reported on Thursday that the number of unsafe particulate matter in the Parisian air reached 147 micrograms per cubic meter, and constantly increased over the weekend before slightly dropping down to 180 micrograms – the limit for these particles are 80 micrograms.

The levels in other main cities are much lower, for instance London’s levels, as measured reported on Thursday, was 79.7 micrograms and Berlin at 81.

In order to lower these toxic levels, the authorities wanted to limit driving use among citizens of the city, as it was discovered that carbon emissions were a primary cause. They therefore banned all drivers whose license plate ended with even numbers from driving on Monday. It was the first time since the late 90’s that such an extreme measure was taken in order to lower smog levels, many citizen were not pleased and thought it to be an ineffective approach.

However, in an attempt to get the residents on board with this plan, all public transportation was free for the day.

Although an incentive was offered, as many as 4,000 people disobeyed the government order and used their cars. They received an immediate fine of 22 EUR which increased to 35 EUR if the fine is dealt with within 3 days.

700 police cars were assigned to monitor the streets to ensure that all citizens were complying with the day-ban.

A number of vehicles were exempt from this rule including:

  • Electric or hybrids
  • Emergency responders (ambulances, fire brigades)
  • School transportation
  • Taxis

The French Minister of Ecology called off the ban after one day due to a dramatic improvement in the pollution level and thanked the residents saying, “90 percent of the cars on the city’s roads today had odd number plates.”

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