The Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles (CCFA) (the French automobile manufacturers association) characterized the recent declaration by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, that she wished to eliminate diesel vehicles in the city by 2020 as lacking realism, and suggested that the best solution to improve urban air quality requires taking action on the more heavily polluting legacy fleet.
Mayor Hidalgo described her anti-pollution plan, which will be considered by the Conseil de Paris (the assembly governing the city) on 9 February, to the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (leJDD) on 6 December. Among the elements of the plan are a total ban on diesel in Paris in 2020; the Rue de Rivoli and the Champs-Élysées to be dedicated to ultra-low emission clean vehicles; and the four districts of the center to be transformed into vast semi-pedestrian areas.
In an interview with leJDD in November, Mayor Hidalgo said that she intended to go much further than what had already done on restricting the travel of the most polluting vehicles in the city. Her longer-range plans include heavy reliance on public transport, electric vehicles, and cycling.
In the interview in which she outlined the scope of her anti-pollution plan, she said:
The measure is clear: I want the end of diesel in Paris in 2020, and possibly beyond the périphérique [Boulevard Périphérique is a controlled-access dual-carriageway ring road in Paris, and is generally accepted as the boundary between the city of Paris and its suburbs.]
Reaction to the proposed plan has been, as might be expected, mixed. A review of the situation in the New York Times noted that while praised by public health officials, the plan has been called elitist by its critics. Until recently, the Times also observed, policy makers in Europe, including France, “were extolling diesel cars as cleaner and more fuel efficient compared with gas-guzzling vehicles, emitting less carbon dioxide per kilometer. The promotion of diesel fuel has been especially notable in France, where it is less expensive than unleaded gas.”
The French automakers in their CCFA statement tried to draw a distinction between older, more highly polluting diesels and the new Euro 5/6 diesels on the market now. (The CCFA has five members: Alpine, Citroën Automobiles, Automobiles Peugeot, Renault and Renault Trucks.)
The CCFA has always supported the accelerated renewal of the older car parc, because the performance of new vehicle meets the latest European diesel standards, among the strictest in the world. When Madam Mayor of Paris declared her wish “eradicate diesel vehicles by 2020,” it makes no distinction between the old diesel vehicles and modern diesel vehicles equipped with the latest pollution control technologies (standards Euro 5/6). The difference is real and it would be wrong to suggest that today we can speak of “the” diesel as a single technology.
European regulations reduced pollutant emissions from diesel vehicles to those of gasoline vehicles. How, in this context, to justify the prohibition of [diesel] traffic? Why not rely on the order of May 2013, which identifies the vehicles in the fleet, according to their levels of emissions, for the implementation of the traffic restriction project in the capital?
By adopting this plan 2020, Paris is the only city [of those] in Europe that have implemented traffic restrictions (e.g., London, Berlin ...) to ban diesel vehicles that comply with European regulations.
Japan, for its part, provides even now tax incentives for diesel vehicles at Level Regulatory particulate emissions… CCFA joins the opinion of the ADEME [Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Énergie (France’s Environment and Energy Management Agency)] which states that “in order to reduce the impact on the air quality of road transport in the most polluted urban areas, it is necessary to act primarily on the most polluting vehicles particles and NOx, especially diesel vehicles without closed particulate filters which still account for about two-thirds of the park.”—CCFA
However, a recent study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that on-road NOx emission levels of Euro 6 diesel cars in Europe are on average about seven times higher than the NOx limit set by the Euro 6 emission standard. (Earlier post.) The study follows another recent ICCT report showing that the gap between official and real-world fuel-economy figures in Europe has risen to about 38%. (Earlier post.)
The study—the most comprehensive report on the real-world behavior of the latest generation of diesel cars published to date—found “remarkable” differences among individual vehicle models, indicating that technologies for real-world clean diesels already exist but are not being employed consistently by different vehicle manufacturers.
Unless the appropriate technical measures are adopted, the high on-road emissions of NOx from the new diesel technology classes of passenger cars could have serious adverse health effects on the exposed population. Regulatory action is urgently required in Europe, where all new diesel passenger cars sold from September 2014 belong to the Euro 6 class and the regional share of diesel vehicles in the passenger car fleet is higher than anywhere else in the world. In this sense, the European RDE-LDV initiative … requiring the inclusion of on-road testing with PEMS as part of the passenger car type-approval process in the EU is a step in the right direction. However, the existence of the real-world diesel NOx issue must be acknowledged by regulators in its full extent and subsequently addressed in collaboration with vehicle manufacturers and other stakeholders.—Franco et al.
Vicente Franco, Francisco Posada Sánchez, John German, and Peter Mock (2014) “Real-world exhaust emissions from modern diesel cars: A meta-analysis of PEMS emissions data from EU (Euro 6) and US (Tier 2 BIN 5 / ULEV II) diesel passenger cars”