Paris wants to phase out diesel cars by 2024

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The move marks an acceleration in plans to wean the country off gas-guzzlers and switch to electric vehicles in a city often obliged to impose temporary bans due to surges in particle pollution in the air.

The proposal would accelerate existing efforts to reduce air pollution in the city after French President Emmanuel Macron promised to ban the sale of vehicles with combustion engines by 2040. Officials have also approved days of free public transportation, introduced rentable bikes and electric cars in the city and banned traffic from the popular Champs-Elysees Avenue once a month, among other measures.

"Time is simply pressing", said Christophe Nadjovski, Paris's deputy mayor of transport, in an interview with the radio station France Info.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo also said Thursday that diesel vehicles would be banned in the city by 2024. Paris is already part of a group of cities that includes Madrid, Mexico City and Athens that plan to end the use of diesel-engined cars by 2025, collectively representing metropolises that are home to 42 million people.

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After an atmospheric phenomenon known as inversion occurred last March, "the pollution levels in Paris briefly topped those of Beijing", NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reported.

The city's planned steps to phase out gasoline- and diesel-engined cars reflect a growing trend among large cities to take action on environmental issues apart from their countries' governments.

"Sensitizing residents to the need to modify their behavior towards the auto was part of the objectives of this day", the mayor's office said in a statement, adding that it was also meant to be a symbol "that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight air pollution caused by traffic".

"We are changing the model of mobility". As a result, the city temporarily alternated between banning cars with even- and odd-numbered license plates.

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