Paris is Europe’s pioneer on the path to a greener future. Now the SUVs could be in trouble there: Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to see fewer of them in the city.
Parking fees of 18 euros per hour in Paris – this could soon become a reality for visitors who drive to the French capital in SUVs or off-road vehicles. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will vote on Sunday to triple parking fees for these car categories, which she denounces as “noisy, space-consuming and environmentally damaging.”
The opposition and the car lobby accuse the socialist mayor of manipulating and serving her own clientele. Hidalgo initiated the end of rental e-scooters in the city with a similar vote in April 2023. However, only seven percent of those eligible to vote took part. Online voting was not possible.
This time too, the 1.3 million Parisians eligible to vote are called upon to go to one of 38 polling offices to cast their vote. “Only people who are not affected will vote,” criticized Pierre Chasseray from a motorists’ association. A modern SUV or off-road vehicle is no more polluting than a small old diesel car, he explained.
The centrist opposition in the city council accuses the mayor of not going far enough and not including Parisians’ large vehicles. “If it is really about reducing environmental pollution, then a fundamental distinction should be made between combustion engines and electric cars,” said Maud Gatel from the Modem party.
The mayor of Paris also justifies the choice of categories by saying that accidents involving SUVs are twice as likely to have fatal consequences as those involving other passenger cars.
If Parisians vote to increase parking fees – which is highly likely given the circumstances – then the tariff in the city center would triple from six to 18 euros. Leaving your SUV parked near the Louvre for half a day – if you can find a spot there – would then cost a whopping 108 euros for six hours.
SUVs are getting bigger and bigger
“Over the past 30 years, the weight of cars has increased by around 250 kilos,” emphasizes the city on its website. “Even though the number of cars in Paris has been declining for ten years, their average size has continued to increase,” it continues. That’s why it’s now “about a better division of public space.”
Since the beginning of her term in office, Hidalgo had the banks of the Seine closed to car traffic and set up numerous traffic-calmed zones. The multi-lane Champs-Elysées is car-free on the first Sunday of every month.
While many Parisians are happy about improved air quality, residents of suburbs with poor public transport connections who regularly travel to Paris by car are annoyed. Hidalgo has also become extremely unpopular with delivery people and taxi drivers.
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The SUVs have also come under international criticism from environmentalists. Greenpeace recently criticized the fact that the world’s three largest automobile manufacturers were directly undoing their progress in climate protection through e-mobility by selling climate-damaging SUV cars.
According to the environmental organization, SUVs emit around twelve percent more carbon dioxide than smaller cars and, because of their size, require more drive energy and more raw materials in production.
Other cities also increased parking fees
Paris is not the only metropolis that wants to get rid of the monster cars. In Washington, registration fees for cars weighing more than 2.7 tons have been seven times higher since October. And in Germany, Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg had already decided to drastically increase parking fees for SUVs in 2021.
Hanover’s mayor Belit Onay (Greens) also advocates making parking for SUVs more expensive. “The trend towards more and more larger and heavier cars continues,” he told the “Tagesspiegel” on Saturday. “I therefore have great sympathy for a price scale for parking fees based on the length of the vehicles.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.