cities are accelerating in low emission zones

Drivers in Lyon, Nice or Montpellier must check their vehicle’s gray card from January 2. Crit’air 5 is classified if they have a diesel over 22 years old (read the signs), they are subject to traffic restrictions. These three megacities are part of eleven agglomerations forced by the 2019 law to create low emission zones (ZFE) to improve air quality.

The system consists of the gradual removal of the most polluting vehicles within a certain perimeter. Rouen, Reims or Toulouse now ban Crit’air 4 vignettes, while Paris plans to exclude Crit’air 3 in 2024. Then we’ll get to the really hard part, because this category makes up about a quarter of the French car fleet. In the midst of an energy crisis and rapid inflation, this ZFE file is enough to wake up the red hats of 2013 or the yellow vests of 2018.

Deputies of the national group “Rassemblement” understood this well. On January 12, they will introduce a bill aimed at abolishing ZFEs “Come to target middle class households and point the finger at drivers”. The initiative has no chance of success. Although the pollution causes about 48,000 premature deaths every year, France was condemned by the European justice in 2022 and later by the Council of State.

43 cities by 2025

The mobility law of 2019 to start the transformation, followed by the climate law of 2021, which extends the ZFE to all agglomerations of more than 150,000 inhabitants in 2025, i.e. 43 metropolises in total, leaves local authorities with plenty of room for maneuver. . They decide on zoning, schedule of restrictions (seasons and times) and appropriate vehicles (cars, utility vehicles, heavy trucks).

For its part, the government held the first ministerial committee on EPZs at the end of October. The Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Bechu, implemented a number of measures proposed in the last report of the parliament, including the creation of a monitoring committee and the appointment of a single interlocutor for agglomerations in January.

Above all, the government is putting €150 million on the table to fund research and infrastructure. On the social side, the bonus for buying an electric car is increased from 6,000 to 7,000 euros for low-income families, and the retraining bonus for ZFE residents is increased by 1,000 euros.

Risk of miscarriage for rural and suburban people

A group of associations favorable to ZFEs (including Secours Catholique, the League Against Cancer and environmental organizations) will announce next week the launch of a think tank: “La Fabrique de la Mobilité” which will bring together experts, public actors or users. a “white paper” in June.

“Unfortunately, we lost a lot of time in this matter. Tony Renucci of the Respire Association comments. The deadline of 2025 is approaching, but we must not make a hasty mistake, because the main thing is that the reforms are acceptable. » Some metropolises, such as Toulon, are asking to delay the implementation of the ZFE for a year or two.

Sebastien Martin, president of France’s Intermunicipal Board, a body that brings together municipal groups, is calling for an increase in conversion aid and the creation of municipalities at the same time. “one window”, because community rewards are added to state rewards, otherwise there is a risk of losing citizens.

The social complexity of the issue is aggravated by the high risk that residents of areas outside the ZFE will no longer be able to go there. Suburban and rural dwellers are often the most humble and need their cars the most.

“Metropolises are well aware of this issue and dialogue is being conducted with neighboring municipalities”, notes Sébastien Martin optimistically. Apart from public health, the implementation of the ZFE is really the whole mobility policy in the area.


Crit’air system

ZFE is based on the Crit’air classification of cars. For cars, Crit’air 4 and 5 refer to the oldest diesel engines, all cars before 1997 were excluded from the classification. Crit’air 3 covers diesel engines over 12 years old and petrol engines over 17 years old. Crit’air 2 gasoline engines over 12 years old and diesel engines under 12 years old. Crit’Air 1 Any gas powered vehicle under 12 years old. Finally, Crit’air 0 is for 100% electric vehicles.

The 43 agglomerations associated with the ZFE will not have to ban Crit’air 3 in 2025. Only those with high contamination levels are on schedule: Crit’air 5 ends in January 2023, Crit’air 4 in January 2024, and Crit’air 3 in January 2025.

A recent decree provides for concessions. In 2025, agglomerations that do not exceed the nitrogen dioxide limit set by the WHO will not be required to create an EPZ.

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