Take public transport in Paris this weekend, and it will cost you nothing at all. Last night, the President of the Île-de-France region announced that, as of 5:30 this morning, the entire Paris regional network would run free of charge until at least Sunday evening. The move comes not from a sudden enthusiasm for greener forms of transport, but because air pollution across France is currently at appallingly high levels.
Following unseasonably warm weather throughout March, over 30 French Départements are on maximum pollution alert as the volume of particulates in the air skyrockets. The state hopes that by encouraging people to leave their cars at home, they may be able to massage pollution down to more manageable levels. Given the noxious yellowish fug lurking over Paris streets right now, accompanied by a rise in hospital visits for asthma, the measures couldn’t come sooner. Indeed, Paris's radical intervention may be just a taste of things to come across Europe, as cities struggle to cope with weather patterns made more extreme and unpredictable by climate change.