A proposed ban on wood burning in Paris has been overturned just days before it was due to come into effect following a campaign by Segolene Royal, the ecology minister and former partner of president François Hollande.
Parisians wishing to settle down in front of a warm log fire over the cold winter nights breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as the ban on open log fires in the Paris region, set to begin on January 1, was overturned.
The ban was initially proposed after a study by Airparif, the body in charge of measuring air quality, claimed that fireplaces were responsible for 25 per cent of fine-particle emissions, and produced as much pollution as cars and trucks.
But the study was hotly contested, with even Green politicians arguing that these numbers were grossly overestimated.
It’s obviously possible to argue over the different effects of the invention of central heating and the Clean Air Acts etc. But there’s no doubt at all that the burning of coal and wood in domestic fireplaces had a significant effect on air quality in towns. I well recall (because I had to pay for it once) the effort that went into scrubbing the buildings of my native Bath of the couple of centuries of accumulated soot that stuck to the buildings.
And I also recall getting off at the airport in San Luis Obispo for the first time. A small coastal town in California. And my first reaction was to ask a local friend whether there was some awful conflagration happening. No, just the wood fires in the houses that you can smell.
Here in rural Portugal I’ve a fire going in the office. And I can see the smoke coming out of the chimney. Here population density is so low it doesn’t matter, the fields are getting a light dusting of carbon, oh dear never mind.
But seriously, controls over open fires in urban areas are an obvious thing to have. Even if wood is “renewable” there’s still a real and serious pollution issue here.