the device refined with automated fines and zero-interest loans to change cars

Paris (and Greater Paris), Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-Marseille, Nice, Montpellier, Rouen, Strasbourg, Toulon and Toulouse have already established low-emission zones (ZFE), these perimeters where the most polluting vehicles are banned from traffic. The government’s goal is to implement 32 new ZFEs by 2025 – notably in Nantes, Angers, Clermont-Ferrand and Lille – taking into account the difficulties faced by pioneering cities. Mayors, city chairmen, association representatives were thus invited to the first ZFE monitoring committee, Tuesday 25 October, in the Ministry of Ecological Transformation.

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From 1 January 2023, Crit’Air 5 vehicles (diesel cars produced before 2001) will be affected. On 1 January 2024 it will be Crit’Air 4 (diesel before 2006) and then Crit’Air 3 (diesel before 2011 and petrol before 2006) on 1 January 2025.

The biggest pitfall of low-emission zones is financial support for households that own polluting vehicles.“We have an overrepresentation of low-income households among those who own the most polluting vehicles,” emphasized Christophe Béchu, the minister of ecological transition. In fact, 38% of the most insecure households have a Crit’air 4 or 5 car, according to INSEE.

These modest drivers will be able to benefit from a zero-interest loan of 30 000 euros maximum to finance the purchase of a clean vehicle, Christophe Béchu recalled. This unit, established by a decree published in April, will enter into force in January 2023. The minister made it clear that this loan is a supplement to previous units such as the ecological bonus – of 7,000 euros for the most modest who want to change vehicles – and the conversion premium, which will have an additional premium of 1 000 euros. An addition, which until now was “reserved for intermediate municipalities that create a local bonus”, reminded Christophe Béchu, will concern all motorists who live in these ZFEs or who work there.

ONE “working group dedicated to issues of social accessibility” will also be implemented, said the minister “so that at no time can we imagine that this imperative of public health, which is imperative, would have the call to restore tolls or subsidies at the entrance to our metropolises, with the most fragile social exclusions”.

Another obstacle to the proper functioning of low-emission zones is the control of traffic restrictions. The police are unable to constantly check motorists and ensure that the most polluting vehicles do not circulate in these EPZs. Christophe Béchu therefore promises a radar and video verbalization system available at the end of 2024. Cameras that will be able to read license plates. An exemption system will be possible, the minister assures, for emergency vehicles and the disabled. The local authorities have some freedom regarding the timetable for implementation of these EPZs.

The minister also announced the appointment “a single interlocutor, a Mr. ZFE or a Mrs. ZFE, who will be an interministerial referent”. This referent or referent will have “a competence in connection with transport, but also with health, with the Ministry of the Interior, assures Christophe Béchu, considering the problem of control and the efficiency of these areas, and finally with the companies”. Finally, after the land-based EPZs, another working group will soon be set up, this time to reflect on the creation of maritime low-emission zones.

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