Authorities in Paris have banned cars with even-numbered registration plates entering the city today, in a bid to tackle a major build-up of smog.
The authorities have taken the radical step because a combination of recent warm days and cold nights has stopped smog from dispersing. Public transport – including the city's cycle hire scheme – has been made free in a bid to alleviate the problem.
Around 700 police have been deployed to enforce the registration plate rule in the city centre and 22 surrounding regions. Flouting the restriction results in a small fine. If the air pollution continues to exceed the acceptable levels tomorrow, the car ban will switch to vehicles with odd-numbered plates.
French Newspaper, Le Parisien, reported that car-pooling and car hire companies have reported a massive spike in activity as drivers tried to get around the ban by finding odd-numbered plates. The head of public transport estimates that making the city's metro system and buses free – a big contributor to air pollution – costs in the region of €4 million a day.
Air pollution has been linked to premature deaths, and aggravates respiratory conditions such as asthma. Newcastle University also plan to run an experiment investigating what impact smog has on the health of heavy-breathing cyclists.
On Friday, the city's air quality monitoring agency Airparif said levels of particulates were more than double the safe limit.
The registration plate tactic has been tried before, in 1997.
Last month it emerged that the UK was be taken to court because the government has failed to tackle air pollution with enough seriousness.