France to reduce air pollution from vehicles in a series of measures

29 October 2018

France is planning for its cities to introduce congestion pricing in a bid to reduce traffic jams and air pollution, according to the country’s transport minister.

A draft law is being vetted by the state council and will be presented to the country’s parliament next month. This will allow cities to introduce tolls and set limits on how much they can charge. The plan would be the latest in the countries efforts to reduce air pollution.

′Urban tolls will be part of the new mobility law, which will provide tools for local authorities to respond to mobility challenges on their territory,’ Elisabeth Borne told reporters at the Autonomy mobility conference.

While no further details have been forthcoming, a draft of the law suggests cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants could charge cars €2.50 per entry into a restricted zone, with that rising to €5.00 per entry for cars and €20 per truck in cities with over 500,000 people living there.

The proceeds of the toll will go toward the local authorities, who can define the toll area, timing and tariffs to limit car circulation and pollution. People living within the congestion zone or those with low-incomes or handicaps may be exempt from any charges.

The country will also ask carmakers to help fund an expanded trade-in program to get older and more polluting cars off the roads, according to the French finance minister.

The existing government-funded scrappage scheme, which mainly targets old diesel cars, is already oversubscribed.

The country recently hardened the tax on polluting vehicles, which is expected to raise an extra €40 million. This would then reach a total of €610 million next year, which would finance contributions for the purchase of more environmentally friendly cars.

The minister’s agenda says he will hold meetings with Environment Minister Francois de Rugy and automakers, such as Renault and PSA, to ′discuss measures aimed at speeding up the vehicle fleet’s ecological transition.’

′With Francois de Rugy we will ask carmakers tomorrow to contribute to the conversion premium,’ Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Parisien in an interview, adding that the incentive should be more efficient and reach more French people. The level of carmakers’ contribution to the wider scheme would have to be discussed with them, he said.

Les Echos newspaper earlier this week said French automakers were already discussing between them the implementation at their expense of a bonus for the conversion of old vehicles. The precise outlines remained under discussion.

Le Maire also dismissed calls to reduce taxes on fuel prices, which have surged in France after a spike in crude oil, saying this would contribute to climate change.

France’s 2019 budget includes an increase in diesel taxes of more than 6 cents per litre and those on petrol by almost 3 cents.