J’aime la belle Paris, mais sacre bleu!

By Dave Armstrong - 09 Dec 2014 17:14:0 GMT
J’aime la belle Paris, mais sacre bleu!

Notres dames in this case are the mayor of Paris and the Ecology Minister. No real person is displayed here, but the argument seems to have given the ladies concerned quite a headache, too. Notre Dame image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Paris is perhaps a paragon in terms of making efforts to control air pollution. All the largest cities worldwide have huge emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates, to name only major pollutants. These airborne nuisances have various sources. Traffic is major, with nearby power stations being the big carbon emitters. Households today take centre stage with the French Ecology Minister using her penchant for stylish edicts to object to a local authority ban on wood fires.

With Christmas around the corner, log fires could just be on the mind of many Parisians. However, the mayor of Paris, who I’m sure is another elegant lady, has already had a go at stopping the annual pollution canyon of the Champs Elysées and environs by banning non-residents’ cars.

Ségolène Royal made her ministerial ploy clear today, with open fireplaces possibly part of her own Xmas plans. Closed-combustion fires are more sensible and quite clean in a city, of course, so hopefully there are few fires still smoking into the air. Asthmatics and other respiratory sufferers are severely affected by carbon particles of all sizes, although the insidious tiny PM2.5 particles (ie. sized at less than 2.5microns) from diesel exhaust present a much greater threat in this century.

Mme Royal was very surprised by the regional department’s ban throughout hundreds of other towns and cities in the Ile de-France region around the capital. They seemed to believe that 23% of PM2.5 emissions came from domestic fires, equal to those from vehicles. Airparif is a local monitor of Parisian air, quoting the true figures as 39% from cars and 4% from wood burning. Perhaps we need to look at gas and oil heating too! If you are interested in Paris becoming a real island, along with many other cities, this is our story on the effect of those carbon emissions.

The car ban by Anne Hidalgo follows a necessary step last March when pollution reached very high levels. While it starts at weekends, this new ban will soon be extended to the whole week. Previous French fuel policies have encouraged high-pollution diesel engines, but they will be banned completely by 2020. Many could find the 30kph speed limit throughout the city disconcerting anyway and sensibly leave their cars in the garage. In 3 years, the increase in Parisians without cars has gone up from 40% to 60%. I am sure the European cities with similar problems all have reduced numbers of car owners, with many opting for the Oslo solution of electric cars. London resembles Paris in having ring routes that clog regularly, which is enough to prevent traffic flow, but unfortunately increases pollution. In North America or Asia, ploys need considering where diesel vehicles have been employed for public service or trucking.

Perhaps the highlight here is having 2 ladies getting out their handbags for a full confrontation. At least that will show up the need for more discussion on how the problems of cities can be dealt with before this century gets any older. Immigrants and workers from the provinces come to the arrondissements of Paris and every other capital. They need to adapt to the new cycle lanes, the heating systems and the incredible traffic, as most citizens of every nation do more and more. That is why the central parts of Paris now have 20,980 people per km2