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Lawsuit against Lyon Low Emission Zone

Only five days after tightening the rules in the Lyon Low Emission Zone, a class action lawsuit has been filed against the measures. The distinction between private individuals and traders disregards the equal rights of citizens. This could mean the end of the tightening in one of the dirtiest cities in France.

Since 01 January 2021, stricter rules apply in the low emission zone in Lyon. Light commercial vehicles and trucks with a category 3 sticker are no longer allowed to enter. This regulation bars light diesel commercial vehicles with Euro standard 4 and diesel trucks with Euro standard 5. However, it is possible for tradespeople to apply for exemptions, so that tradespeople, for example, may continue to drive in and are granted a transitional period.

For private individuals who want to bring light commercial vehicles and trucks into the zone, there are no exceptions at all. Therefore, only five days after the start of the tightening, the Lyon Bar Association has filed a class action denouncing the violation of equal rights between private individuals and tradesmen. The aim of the lawsuit is to introduce measures such as an individual exemption from the new rule and subsidies for the purchase of vehicles also for private individuals in order to protect them from the unequal treatment.

Last year, only commercial vehicles and trucks with stickers 4, 5 and those without a sticker at all were banned in the low emission zone. By 2025, the new regulation, which affects the city of Lyon, but also the areas of Villeurbanne, Caluire-et-Cuire, Vénissieux and Bron, is to be extended to other vehicles, without the possibility of exemptions then. In the longer term, the city wants to allow only vehicles with sticker 1 or E to enter, so only the latest petrol and electric vehicles would be allowed.

With their complaint, however, the citizens of Lyon, like those in Brussels, are now taking action against the driving bans. In the Belgian metropolis, heavy trucks are exempt from registration. A citizen had filed a complaint against this. The lawsuit in Lyon could therefore mean the end of the tightening shortly after its introduction.  It is not clear whether the tightening will be lifted completely or only exemptions for private individuals will be introduced. In December, the organisation Greenpeace had clearly advocated for the tightening, arguing that it was essential for the protection of residents and also for the climate goals. About 45,000 premature deaths are caused by air pollution every year in France. Lyon and other large cities contribute massively to this.  

The city of Lyon is an example where environmental zones and their regulations have once again not been thought through to the end. Whether this will lead to a repeal of the regulation, you will of course find out in our blog.