Anne Penketh
The Guardian

The mayor of Paris on Sunday announced radical plans to ban diesel cars from the French capital by 2020 as part of an anti-pollution drive.

Anne Hidalgo also said parts of central Paris would severely curtail private car use by creating semi-pedestrianised zones, beginning with an experiment on weekends which could be “rapidly” extended to include weekdays. Vehicle use inside these zones would be limited to the cars of residents, and emergency and delivery vehicles. Buses, taxis and bicycles would not be affected.

The mayors of all major European cities, including London, are grappling with how to tackle pollution emitted by diesel fumes, whose tiny particles and nitrogen oxides are harmful to health. But France has the highest number of diesel cars on the road in Europe – 65% of new cars sold in the first six months of this year were diesel.

“The measure is clear: I want an end to diesel in Paris in 2020, if possible beyond the périphérique,” the traffic-clogged ringroad, Hidalgo told the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. She also plans to ban lorries from crossing Paris unless they have business in the city.

City opposition leader Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet tweeted that “Parisians have been waiting for years” for such measures.

The mayor recognised the change could mean hardship for some drivers, who have turned to diesel as it’s cheaper than petrol. She said financial incentives would be available for the purchase of more environmentally friendly cars.

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