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Paris bans old gas guzzlers

The streets of Paris are about to feel a little newer, and the air will feel a little cleaner. The French capital has issued a ban on cars registered before 1997 and motorcycles registered before 1999.

The ban is part of an effort to clean the Paris air, which regularly violates EU norms and is estimated to shorten residents' lives by six to eight months.

The Parisian police were out en masse on Friday to issue warnings of the impending ban to owners of aging vehicles. As of January 1st, 2017, the vehicles affected by the ban (about 30,000) are to be off the streets between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Violators will incur fines between 35 and 450 euros ($39 to $501), depending on the severity of the infraction.

The ban is to become stricter over the next few years. By 2020, it will extend to any car registered before 2010. Furthermore, all Parisian vehicles are to be grouped into six categories beginning July 1st based on how much they pollute. Drivers of low-emitting vehicles will also receive certain perks, like priority parking.

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Air quality matters

Parisian officials have good reason to restrict high-emitting vehicles;

the city's air quality

is consistently worse than most other cities in Europe. This failing has serious consequences. According to the World Health Organization, fine-particle pollution is responsible for about 42,000 deaths per year in France, and the French Senate has estimated that air pollution costs the country 100 billion euros per year.

Surprisingly, some environmental activists are critical of the ban. They claim it is short-sighted and disproportionately affects the poor.

"These restrictions won't do anything from an environmental point of view," said Daniel Quero, president of "40 millions d'automobilistes."

"The only reason that Anne Hidalgo announced these restrictions is to push cars outside of the capital, without concern for the economic and social consequences.

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