Paris 83 instead of 10, Marseille 89 instead of 5, Lyon 108 instead of 14. This is how many days with temporary driving bans will be in France from 2021.
The limits for measuring air pollution were measured over many years with an outdated index. This will change next year - and will lead to more driving bans in temporary low emission zones.
Temporary environmental zones are actually a means of reacting quickly to severe air pollution. Their activation in the event of poor air quality prohibits older vehicles from entering the zone, so that an immediate improvement in air quality can be achieved. Despite the many temporary and permanent environmental zones, France has been exceeding the air quality limits set by the EU for years. This is not least due to the fact that France's limit values are significantly higher than those set by the EU and an outdated air pollution index is used to measure them.
In October 2018, the European Court of Justice successfully brought an action against France's exceeding of the limit values, so that a new index is now being introduced, which will result in up to 18 times more temporary driving bans.
The previously used index was not able to provide calculations for smaller regions because the scale was too rough. As a result, temporary driving bans were often not considered necessary. ATMO-France has now extended the scale of the index from three to six levels so that smaller towns with up to 100,000 inhabitants can also be assessed. The new index also includes an air pollutant that was previously ignored. The old index included nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter PM10, but not the smaller but very harmful particulate matter PM2.5. In the new index, the air pollutant with the worst value will always be the decisive factor in determining air quality in the future, so that driving bans can already be imposed if individual limit values are exceeded.
With the use of the limit values set by the EU, measurements will then have to result in the activation of zones much more frequently. In order to show how much the changes could actually affect future driving bans, ATMO-France has analysed the air quality for the years 2015-2017 using the recalculated index: According to the new calculations, the air in Paris would have been considered poor 83 days per year instead of only 10 days per year. Rennes had no days in 2015-2017 on which the limit values were exceeded, but according to the new measurement method the critical limit value would have been exceeded on 19 days. In Marseilles and Lyon, the new calculations paint an even more dramatic picture: Marseilles would have jumped from 5 to 89 days, Lyon from 14 to 108. The air in the French cities will therefore be classified as poor significantly more often from next year onwards, which should consequently lead to the activation of temporary environmental zones. It remains to be seen whether the prefects will follow suit.
To keep up to date with the latest zones and temporary driving bans, download our free Green Zones app. There you can also view advance warnings, i.e. impending driving bans, to plan ahead. So you are always well informed in the French and European zone chaos and can avoid heavy fines.