In an interview with L’Obs, Elsa Schalck, Senator for Bas-Rhin, municipal councilor and member of the Strasbourg Eurometropolis, discusses the postponement of the implementation of low-emission zones in 2030.
By an amendment to the Climate Bill, the Senate postponed until 2030 against 2025 originally – the mandatory establishment in large cities of low emission zones (ZFE), from which the most polluting vehicles will be excluded. Why ?
To allow flexibility in traffic restrictions and to allow time for alternatives to develop. The idea is to make these measures acceptable to people who own a car and will have to change it. Take the example of the metropolis of Strasbourg: from 2028 it wanted to ban the circulation of all diesel models, brutally prohibiting the presence of 180,000 vehicles. It is of course necessary to reduce air pollution, and we are obviously not opposed to the principle of low emission zones. But be careful with the terms, the implementation must not be punitive for our fellow citizens. The mayor of Illkirch-Graffenstaden (Bas-Rhin), for example, is organizing a local referendum on the subject on July 11, which is a good idea. We want to give time to time, which would allow a shift to 2030.
How can we prevent these areas from discriminating against those who live outside city centers or who cannot afford to change cars?
I believe it is important, in order to do this, that this deployment be gradual and modulated. This is why, in the Senate, we voted for exemptions: vehicles could access an EPZ in the event of overriding reasons, such as going to court, to a technical control center or for health reasons, for example. These margins of flexibility must be retained. Networks of trams, cycle paths, among the alternatives, are being set up, but time should be allowed for these offers to develop. And they cannot always replace the individual vehicle. We have therefore created a zero-rate loan intended to help the most precarious households to renew their vehicle.
What reactions do you see on the ground regarding these future restrictions?
Awareness is still low, but as people are informed we see strong concerns growing. This is why this major change should not be rushed. For such an important reform, which affects a crucial point in the life of our fellow citizens, the State and the communities have an essential role to play, by taking the time to develop realistic application methods. Change cannot be decreed overnight: let’s support it instead of adopting a too tight schedule.