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This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Parisians have voted to triple parking costs for sports utility vehicles (SUVs), as the city aims to tackle air pollution and climate breakdown by targeting rich drivers in heavy, large and polluting cars.

In a referendum on Feb. 4, which was closely watched by other capital cities, including London, 54.6 per cent voted in favour of special parking fees for SUVs, according to provisional results. However, the turnout — at about 5.7 per cent of Paris’s registered voters — was lower than green campaigners had hoped for.

“Parisians have made a clear choice … other cities will follow,” said Paris’s Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, adding that road safety and air pollution were key reasons for the vote.

Hidalgo had previously described the move to curb the presence of SUVs through raising parking prices as “a form of social justice.” She said the aim was to deliberately target the richest drivers of expensive, heavy and polluting cars who had not yet made changes to their behaviour to address the climate crisis.

The new parking tariffs could come into force at the start of September. The cost of on-street parking for an SUV or 4x4 vehicle would rise to €18 (£15) an hour in the centre of Paris and €12 an hour in the rest of the city.

The prices will apply to vehicles weighing more than 1.6 tonnes with a combustion engine or hybrid vehicles, and more than two tonnes for electric vehicles. The move will not apply to Paris residents’ parking.

Tony Renucci, director of the air quality campaign group Respire, said: “The result of the vote is a victory for Paris residents’ quality of life.” He added that Paris was sending a message that “the presence of these monsters on wheels was no longer desirable on our streets.”

New parking tariffs could come into force at the start of September. The cost of on-street parking for an SUV or 4x4 vehicle would rise to €18 an hour in the centre of Paris and €12 an hour in the rest of the city.

Emmanuel Grégoire, Paris’s deputy mayor, posted on X as voting began: “Heavier, more dangerous, more polluting … SUVs are an environmental disaster.”

Last year, Paris held a similar vote on whether to ban rented electric scooters and subsequently became the first European capital to do so. The turnout for that vote — 103,000 people, about seven per cent of registered voters — was higher than for the vote on SUVs.

Under Hidalgo, Paris has for years raised pressure on drivers by increasing parking costs and gradually banning diesel vehicles, while expanding the bicycle lane network in the congested capital. The city has reduced the number of on-street parking spaces in order to make drivers use underground parking. There was a 71 per cent rise in the use of bikes between the end of the COVID lockdowns and 2023, city hall said.

Paris’s deputy mayor in charge of transport, David Belliard, of the Green party, said about 10 per cent of vehicles in Paris would be hit by the higher parking fees, which could bring in up to €35 million for the city each year.

The motorists’ lobby group 40 Millions d’Automobilistes had argued that drivers should be free to choose whatever vehicle they want, warning that the move to raise parking tariffs was unjustified and the work of “an ultra-urban and anti-car minority.”

Christophe Béchu, France’s environment minister, told broadcaster RTL that the SUV surcharge amounted to “a kind of punitive environmentalism” — even if drivers should “opt for lighter vehicles.”

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