alarmed by rising levels of smog in Paris, the French government recently announced new rules to improve air quality in the city. Air quality is determined by the amount of sulphur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide present in the air. The new restrictions recently announced by the French environment minister Corinne Lepage stipulate that when pollution reaches 'level three', automobile traffic will be restricted and public transportation and street parking during daytime will be free. On days of level three alert, only cars having license numbers beginning with even numbers will be permitted on the roads. If the pollution persists the next day, only cars with odd-numbered licences will be allowed to run. However, vehicles carrying three or more passengers, taxis, buses, electric cars and commercial vehicles have been exempted from the rules. The rules would be imposed on the basis of forecasts for the following day.
However, environmentalists feel that the rules will not make much difference. "Level-three pollution is rare, because the limits are set unusually high," the Greens Party said.