A usually very clear city, Paris has seen unusually high levels of air pollution recently, causing the city to jump to action. Through the weekend all public transportation will be free, although the reasoning is not so cheery. The government, seeking to reduce tailpipe emissions, encouraged citizens to use readily accessible rental bicycles and electric cars by making both free through the weekend.
Although unclear, Philippe Martin, the minister, tried to provide some reasoning in a statement on Thursday, saying the actions taken were “due to a persistent episode of pollution with fine particles.” The French Health Ministry issued warnings particularly for elderly, pregnant women, young children and those with respiratory issues.
The problem did not become broadly known until late last week, but it has been building for several days as a high-pressure system over the region created a string of sunny days with little wind, cold nights and warm days that left pollutants trapped in Paris. In Paris there had been little concerted effort to reduce pollution from cars and trucks until last week.
The European Commission has repeatedly warned France that it is not complying with Europe-wide rules on air contaminant levels.