Paris intends to triple parking charges for large sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in order to push them out of the city and limit emissions and air pollution, the mayor has said.
“It is a form of social justice,” Anne Hidalgo announced on Friday of the plan to deliberately target the richest drivers to tackle the climate breakdown and air pollution. “This is about very expensive cars, driven by people who today have not yet made the changes to their behaviour that have to be made [for the climate].”
Paris will hold a referendum on 4 February asking residents to vote for or against a specific parking tariff for heavy, large and polluting SUVs. Earlier this year, Paris held a similar vote on whether to ban rented electric scooters and subsequently became the first European capital to ban them.
If Paris votes yes on parking tariffs, the cost of on-street parking for an SUV or 4×4 car will rise to €18 (£15) an hour in the centre of Paris and €12 an hour in the rest of the city, officials said on Friday. The prices will apply to vehicles weighing more than 1.6 tonnes with a combustion engine or hybrid vehicles, and more than 2 tonnes for electric vehicles. The move will not apply to Paris residents’ parking.
Hidalgo said the rise could raise €35m for the French capital. She said it was about taking action for the climate crisis, road safety and air quality and also protecting the 500,000 Parisians who live near the ring road, the Périphérique, and suffer the consequences of big cars driving into the city.
David Belliard, a deputy mayor of Paris for the Green party, said: “SUVs cost between €6,000 to €7,000 more than a standard car and all the studies by car firms show that they are bought by the wealthiest people with high incomes … This measure, if applied, will be directed at the richest people in order to finance the transformation of our public space to adapt to the climate crisis, so it’s a form of social redistribution.”
He said if a person drove into Paris in an SUV and had to pay €36 for two hours’ parking, this would be an incentive to use another form of transport. “It is about sending a strong signal to those who drive these huge cars – or aspire to – that in the future it’s going to cost you more. We invite them to use other means of transport, there are alternatives.”
He also wanted to send a message to car manufacturers of SUVs as sales rose. Le Parisien reported that the number of SUVs in the capital has risen by 60% in the last four years.
If Paris residents vote in favour of the plan, the new parking fees will begin next spring. The city of Lyon will also introduce higher parking costs for larger vehicles next year.
Under Hidalgo, Paris has for years raised pressure on drivers by increasing parking costs and gradually banning diesel vehicles, while expanding the bicycle lane network in the congested capital. The city has reduced the number of on-street parking spaces in order to make drivers use underground parking.
The French motorists’ association, 40 millions d’automobilistes, denounced what it called an “unjustified” clampdown and restriction on liberties.