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Going green, Paris bans older cars. Unfair to the poor?

Starting in July, vehicles registered before 1997 will be banned from Paris' city center. Opponents argue that banning older cars will disproportionately effect low-income families.

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    A parade of classic cars is held in Paris, France. Events like this may be illegal after the ban on older cars is implemented in Paris.
    Jacques Brinon/AP/File
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In what may turn out to be worrying trend, officials in Paris have placed a ban on older cars and motorcycles.

As first reported by Le Monde, cars registered before 1997 and motorcycles before 1999 will be outlawed from entering the city center during the week starting from July 1.

Cars will be divided into six categories based on their age and level of emissions, and a windshield sticker will be used to allow authorities to easily identify them. Violators will face fines of up to €35 ($39), though this is set to rise as early as next year.

The new rules, which will affect around 10 percent of the vehicles in Paris, is just the latest measure to reduce smog and traffic in the popular tourist destination. Previously, cars were blocked from entering the city center on certain days based on license plate information and other factors, and complete bans on trucks already came into effect last year.

Worryingly, stricter rules are scheduled to roll in at a later date. Eventually, we could see any vehicle older than 10 years banned from the city center, regardless of whether it’s a weekday or the weekend. This is to encourage more people to switch to lower-emission vehicles.

Proponents of the rules point to high levels of smog in the city as well as studies from the World Health Organization that claim fine-particle air pollution is responsible for around 42,000 deaths per year in France. A report from the French Senate also estimated that air pollution cost the country as much as $112 billion per year.

In the opposing camp are numerous motoring groups. They point out that the new rules will more harshly affect lower-income families that may not be able to afford newer cars. They also point out that there’s no exemption for classic or historically-significant cars like the Citroën 2CV shown above.

The opponents also point out that the rules, which favor zero-emission vehicles like electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars, don’t take a “well-to-wheel” approach in determining emissions. By ignoring this, they claim, the rules are more about reducing the number of cars in the city as opposed to actually combating air pollution.

This article first appeared at MotorAuthority.

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