Europe News

Sacre bleu! Paris to close Champs-Elysees to cars to halt pollution

Jessica Hartogs; special to
johny007pan | Getty Images

In an effort to combat smog levels, Paris will ban cars driving down its iconic Champs-Elysees Avenue on the first Sunday of every month.

The decree, by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, was issued as part of the Paris Respire (Paris Breathes) campaign, where various streets across the capital are pedestrianized. Museums across Paris are also free on the first Sunday of every month.

Originally set to begin on Sunday, May 1, the Socialist mayor moved the first pedestrian day to May 8 as May 1 is a public holiday across Europe and most city workers needed to run the scheme will be off.

The World Health Organization says fine-particle air pollution is responsible for approximately 42,000 premature deaths in France each year.

A Chinese man walking on a street wears a mask amid heavy smog in Beijing, China on December 25, 2015. Hazardous smog blanketing China's north-east has sparked more red alerts, with authorities advising residents in 10 cities to stay indoors.
Pollution cancels more than 220 Beijing flights: Xinhua

Several cities across the world have taken steps to fight smog levels.

Greenpeace protesters recently scaled some of London's most historic statues to raise awareness of what the environment group calls toxic air levels in the U.K.'s capital.

In Delhi, which often ranks among the 10 most polluted cities of the world – officials have since January introduced an "odd-even" car scheme where odd number car plates are only allowed to drive on one day and even number car plates the next. However, critics say that this does not prevent nearly nine million cars from driving on the congested roads each day.

Beijing declared its first ever 'red alert' day last December, where schools closed and over 2,000 factories stopped operating when smog levels were 25 times over their safe level. There have been 1.4 million premature deaths in China because of air pollution, according to a study by Germany's Max Planck Institute.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.