Parisian politicians squabble as smog suffocates the city of lights

According to Airparif, the city’s air-quality monitor, Paris is under a seasonal pollution predicament that drives the concentration of particles called PM10 and PM2.5 in some areas to levels as thick as in Beijing. The dirtiest areas include Rue Royale near Place de la Concorde, Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre museum, the Grands Boulevards near department stores and the Marais.

The smog was first noted on Tuesday, resulting from human and environmental factors.

Visitors and Parisians locals alike are challenged with rain, when there is a drop in pollution levels, or bright sunshine and abrupt peaks in temperature.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo reacted by allowing free car park, bans on heavy trucks and free bikes rentals and the city’s armada of electric cars. Environment Minister Segolene Royal and the mayor are not at eye level over the issue.

Ms Royal points out that car limitation on driving alternate days curb “freedom” of mobility. Ms  Royal’s rebuke forced Ms Hidalgo to seek President Francois Hollande intervention last month.  He sided with the mayor.

According to Airparif, the traffic restrictions imposed last March 2014 lowered emissions effectively and helped alleviate the smog which is choking the French capital.

The mayor is also calling for a ban on diesel-run vehicles. Pres. Hollande, offered a 10,000 euro incentive (around $14,000) for owners of old diesel vehicles to switch to electric car and 6,500 euros for hybrid cars.

Lowering particles PM10 to WHO approved levels would avoid 112 deaths and 476 hospital admissions yearly.   Compliance of WHO sanction for lower PM2.5 particle levels may add six months to a Parisian’s life expectancy, expressing 4 billion euros in economic gain, a 2011 study by the French health ministry stated.

In 2013, around 25 percent of the Paris region’s 12 million residents were exposed to undue pollution, reported Airparif.

Ms Hidalgo’s next grand move is a bike. She proposes to turn Paris into the “cycling world capital.” 150 million euros will be spent by the city by 2020 to double bike lanes, addition of bike parking spots, build new routes and barrier-protect bike highways and give monetary incentives to those who switch to electric bikes.




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