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Paris benchmarks Tokyo

Posted May. 13, 2017 07:14,   

Updated May. 13, 2017 07:19

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Trocadero Plaza is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Paris, France, mostly visited by tourists who want to capture the entire Eiffel Tower at a mere distance of 700 meters. However, visitors were shocked last winter when Eiffel Tower was nowhere to be seen from this plaza.

The municipality instantly introduced the two-day rotation system when the level of pollution from fine dusts reached over 80μg per square meters. The measure which was taken only once or twice a year has been continued for four consecutive days, from Dec. 6 to 9 last year. The plan was to prevent the deterioration of air quality by at least reducing exhausts from vehicles. Besides taxis, ambulances, vehicles with more than three passengers, and eco-friendly vehicles, all cars were strictly prohibited from driving on odd or even days based on the last digit of their plate numbers. As traffic plummeted, the murky sky gradually recovered its blue colors again.

Alerts are announced based on the estimates of tomorrow's air pollution by the air quality surveillance center Airparif located in 68 places nationwide. The first alarm is alerted once it hits over 50μg for 24 hours. According to each alarming stage, various measures are taken, such as limiting maximum speed, two-day rotation system, prohibition of driving level-five cars. In general, the two-day rotation system is announced late in the evening the day before, and Parisians will not be able to use their cars so suddenly. Still, they are complying with the system for the sake of the local community.

The city is responding to the public cooperation by providing free mass transportation temporarily during the two-day rotation system. Despite a whopping 5 billion loss of cost a day for four consecutive days after the introduction of the rotation system, it was the decision made by the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. The free offering includes not only mass transportation such as subways and buses, but also shared vehicles including the shared bicycle "Velib" and shared electric vehicle "Autolib."

In addition, a parking subsidy was provided to those living in the suburbs when air quality is extremely poor since last January. It came as a measure to encourage higher usage of mass transportation, and already have been set in place seven times this year. At the current time, many Parisians are paying to park on the streets due to the poor parking conditions in the urban area. By making applications online at the official website, drivers are guided via email on free parking spaces near their houses.

As an ecologist, Hidalgo is churning out various measures to prevent air pollution. Starting this January, all vehicles entering in and out of metropolitan areas including Paris must place the carbon emissions sticker on the front of their vehicles, rated from 1 to 5 based on fuel efficiency and type of fuel. When air quality deteriorated in January, Paris prohibited the gas-guzzling level-five cars from driving. At the current time, all vehicles rated as level-five are registered before 2001. In addition, these cars cannot enter the center of Paris during daytime on weekdays.

Furthermore, all vehicles are prohibited from driving on Champs-Elysees once a month. In addition, on-going projects include changing all streets near the Seine to pedestrian lanes. Moreover, Paris recently announced its plan to prevent all diesel cars from entering Paris by 2025.



Jung-Min Dong ditto@donga.com