Bold Paris anti-pollution plan clouded by social divisions

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Every year in France, atmospheric pollution causes the deaths of an estimated 48,000 people and annually costs the country’s economy more than 100 billion euros. The authorities in Paris, where pollution has reached record peaks in recent years, this month introduced a programme to restrict access to the capital by most-polluting vehicles and incentives for inhabitants to give up ownership of cars. But, as Laurent Geslin reports, the plan has been attacked as discriminating for lower-income groups of the population amid wide disagreement between government, city authorities and political parties on how to tackle a growing health crisis.

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Published last month, a study by the French national public health agency, Santé Publique France, concluded that pollution from fine particles in the atmosphere cause the deaths of 48,000 people across France every year. That compares with an estimated yearly 49,000 deaths caused by alcohol consumption and 70,000 yearly deaths from diseases related to tobacco consumption.