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Prevent EPZs from becoming future “strong exclusion zones”.

[AVIS D’EXPERT] Banning Crit’Air 5, 4, 3 and even 2 vehicles from Low Emission Zone (ZFE) may prove to be a social tragedy. Are the French condemned to choose between the end of the month and the end of the world (fighting global warming)?

The fate of the ZFE (Low Emission Zone) is still unknown to the French today. With 43 ZFEs set up by the end of 2024, all French motorists are concerned, and not just those living in these urban areas… According to statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Change, 40% of the existing vehicle fleet (Crit’Air 5, 4 and 3) is in circulation Banned from! Despite this outlook, nearly as many new cars as used Crit’Air 5, 4 and 3 cars have been sold in 2021.

More quickly, the Metropolis of Greater Paris wanted to ban Crit’Air 3 in July 2022, then Crit’Air 2 on January 1, 2024. Therefore, all diesel vehicles, even recent cars and gasoline vehicles (registered before 2010) will be banned from the Greater Paris ZFE… ie 3.8 million vehicles for the Île-de-France region alone. According to ZFE, these vehicles should join the car scrapyard to no longer circulate in our country…

On February 1, the Metropolis of Greater Paris announced that it was “suspending the Crit’Air 3 ban until early 2023” because the French were unaware of the consequences of EPZs and their impact on their daily lives. A ZFE observatory should be set up with personalities from the automotive world, representative associations of motorists and elected representatives of government authorities, parliamentarians and conglomerates. This will make it possible to explain the stakes of EPZs, investigate their impact and study the relaxation of the legal framework to avoid social tragedies.

Review EPZ criteria for social acceptability

The European EPZ Directive is applied differently depending on the country. As for our Italian neighbour, the car fleet and population are very close to France. Over the years, Italy has introduced EPZs in more cities than France. However, the limitations are not the same.

First, Italian ZFEs prohibit vehicles older than 25 years, while in France, Crit’Air 3 concerns diesel vehicles registered before 2010. Then, the Italian authorities take into account the factors of income, location, age and use of the vehicle. For example, Italian mayors can amend the ban on cars driven by drivers over 65 or used by people with reduced mobility. It is therefore possible to provide flexibility in the application of EPZs while reducing CO2 and fine particulate emissions.

In France, 44 senators proposed an amendment to the Climate and Resilience Act based on the principle of eco-maintenance. With proper and verified maintenance of their vehicles, motorists benefit from the exemption from driving in low emission zones. This proposal was unfortunately not followed up… However, the eco-maintenance of the French rolling stock would be able to reduce the release of about one million tons of CO2 annually! In order to make this proposal acceptable to the majority of national representatives, it may be limited to some Crit’Air categories. Thus, the most polluting vehicles will be banned, and more recent vehicles can move freely subject to annual eco maintenance.

Finally, over the next decade, 43 conurbations could develop a new generation of public transport with autonomous shuttles, “robomobiles”, dedicated “high level service bus” lanes and limited to 30 km/h in city centres. Robomobiles can irrigate the outskirts of cities often neglected by traditional and more expensive public transportation. Innovation changes the game.

In conclusion, the establishment of EPZs leads to long-term increases in energy prices. Millions of French people will not be able to change vehicles… they will then be excluded from urban areas or fined 68 euros for each violation. Environmental change cannot happen without the French. Without changes to the ZFE’s regulatory framework, there is a risk that many will join the roundabout.

Franck Cazenave, author of La Robomobile – A New Right to Sustainable and Inclusive Mobility, Descartes & C

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