Paris Hopes Color-Coded Window Stickers Will Help Clean Up Heavy Air Pollution

Paris has added a vehicle color-coded sticker program to its campaign to clean up the city’s polluted air and improve the health of local residents.

The government’s “Crit’Air” system bans all diesel-powered cars registered between January 1997 and December 2000 from the capital. About 6 percent of France’s 32 million cars fall into this category, reports Reuters.

That category of vehicles must have a grey sticker on the windscreen. The Crit’Air program uses a six-color scheme with grey being worst and green being cleanest. Crit’Air is being implemented across France by the national government.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Tuesday was working to get the ban extended to vehicles registered between 2001 and 2005. They would be given brown color-coded window stickers and make up 14 percent of cars on France’s roads.

New clean air rules in Paris took effect in Paris on July 1, 2016. That policy banned vehicles built before 1997 and motorcycles built before 1999 during weekday daylight hours. The ban was set to become progressively more restrictive until 2020, when only cars registered after 2011 and motorcycles registered after July 2015 will be permitted.

Paris has been cited as having some of the dirtiest air in Europe outside of Moscow or Milan, according to data gather by the World Health Organization. Hidalgo has been working to expand the ban to cut back on smog from diesel cars and to “reclaim” the city for pedestrians and bikers.

Other efforts by the city have found limited success. Offering free public transport during days with high smog levels has only seen marginal success. Vehicles had been restricted to accessing the city during air pollution spikes based on their license plates.

Police officers would find the color-coded scheme easier to operate, according to a spokeswoman for the Paris municipal authorities.

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Hidalgo’s plan also increased the cost of parking and banned free parking on Saturdays and the August holiday period. Another plan to improve air quality in the city has been turning a highway on both banks of the Seine into a riverside park.

Local residents support the mayor’s campaign to improve air quality.

“I can really feel the pollution. I have young children and I can see it on their skin and hair. It’s such a shame that in Paris, which we call the City of Light, we’re not able to fix this problem,” one Parisian, Marie, told Reuters.

Pollution from vehicles in Paris often cumulates into a greyish haze over the city. It’s becoming an increasing concern to local health authorities, reported Reuters.

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