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Odd Number Plates Banned from Paris on the 6th December 2016

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Paris like many major European cities including London suffers from poor air quality, especially during peak traffic periods. With air quality in Paris currently scoring poorly on the real-time air quality index which is classified as unhealthy air quality, there is a need for the action to be taken.

And Paris certainly has taken steps today to kerb air pollution in the city by invoking a ban on cars with odd-numbered number plates, preventing them from entering the city for a full 24 hrs and thus reducing the amount of traffic and vehicle emissions released into the atmosphere. But with air quality still far from ideal at the moment of writing the question is how effective is this measure going to be?

This is not the first time such a ban has been put in place in 2014 a similar ban had been put in place that time on cars with even numbered number plates, and then again on enforced in 2015.

Drivers caught flouting the ban risk being slapped with a fine of 35 Euros.

How quickly the levels of air pollution drop and air quality in the city increase is also impacted by local weather conditions for example windy or wet conditions may just remove more pollutant particles from the air in the city, whilst dryer conditions without much wind may keep pollutants in the air for longer.

France is currently losing around 48,000 lives to preventable pollution related deaths, according to the French news site thelocal.fr this requires sustained and regular action from the French Government as opposed to piecemeal one-off efforts done every so often. For example, thinking closer to home in the UK the authorities running London in 2003 introduced a Congestion charge for general cars driving into specific parts of the city, as opposed to the whole of it in the case of Paris today. Whilst initially unpopular and an annoyance the scheme saw a significant reduction in the amount of traffic in key locations covered by the congestion charge scheme which, according to research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine into the pollution and health implications of the congestion charge conducted in 2011, resulted in not only a reduction in traffic accidents, but also had a modestly beneficial impact on the health of Londoners in general, this was down to the reduced pollution levels in the city as a result.

For Paris to attain more long term and longer lasting improvements to its general air quality it must follow in the footsteps of London and take very active measures to reduce traffic and encourage residents and visitors to make better user of public transport or more environmentally friendly means of personal transport such as electric or other very low emission vehicles.

Paris authorities do seem to recognise this fact and are taking more long-term steps, for example by recently banning cars made pre-1997 from the city, and the Mayor of Paris has also announced that they are planning on banning diesel cars from the city by the year 2025 along with other major European cities such as Madrid and Athens.

With more concrete long-term steps being taken by Paris authorities combined with newer more efficient technological innovations becoming more common place such as an increase in electric car ownership for example, residents of Paris may not need to keep an alternative set of replacement number plates in case there is another ban on cars with even or odd numbered number plates.