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Paris joins global movement to raise parking fees on certain types of vehicles: 'Other cities will follow'

"What happens in Paris usually doesn't stay in Paris."

"What happens in Paris usually doesn't stay in Paris."

Photo Credit: iStock

Parisians are tired of enormous, gas-guzzling SUVs congesting their city streets — and now they've voted to do something about it. 

CNBC reported in March that Paris has raised parking fees specifically for SUVs. The new policy will triple parking fees for SUVs that meet certain size and/or pollution criteria, hiking rates to 18 euros (about $19.54) an hour in the city center.

There are several reasons for this policy, one being the sheer size of SUVs. According to a recent study by Transport & Environment, newly manufactured cars in Europe are growing about 1 centimeter wider every two years. At 200 centimeters wide, SUVs make it difficult for other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to navigate around them, especially in cities like Paris with narrow parking and bike lanes.

And the size isn't just an inconvenience — it's dangerous. The risk of fatal injuries increases by 30% if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a car hood 10 centimeters higher than average, according to the Belgian Vias Institute.

Finally, SUVs are fuel inefficient and notorious for contributing above-average carbon dioxide pollution — close to 1 billion metric tons (about 1 billion tons) in 2022.

Fortunately, Paris is optimistic that other cities will follow in its footsteps. Indeed, some European cities have already announced similar policies. For example, Tübingen has increased the price of residential parking permits six-fold for non-electric vehicles of a certain weight, according to CNBC. 

Mayor Anne Hidalgo said, per the outlet, "Parisians have made a clear choice … other cities will follow."

One city with a particular interest in the issue is London. In the U.K., SUVs accounted for 60% of all new car registrations in 2023, per Transport & Environment. With lower tax rates than other European countries, London is poised to become a "tax haven" for SUV owners. This will cause a lot of congestion: One analysis of new car registrations in the U.K. showed that 75% of SUVs sold in 2019-20 were registered to urban addresses.

Not only will it cause congestion, but campaign group Transport & Environment also warns that these vehicles will "blow a hole" in U.K. carbon targets. 

"It just feels wrong that in a city, that you have these massive vehicles," Rezina Chowdhury, deputy leader for London's Lambeth Council, told CNBC, noting that the city was considering a vehicle size fee. 

In the U.S., SUVs have long been a popular choice, but fortunately, the recent Inflation Reduction Act is helping to incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles. Companies are encouraging this switch, too, with some brands offering major discounts for customers.

According to Jens Müller, deputy director at the Clean Cities campaign group, "What happens in Paris usually doesn't stay in Paris." Let's hope so.

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