France bans heated terraces

France has brought in legislation to ban cafes, bars, restaurants and other establishments from operating heated terraces, in a bid to fight climate change and reduce energy consumption.

The French Environment Ministry has estimated that the country’s outdoor heating produces some 500,000 tonnes of CO2 annually – the equivalent to the average yearly emissions from 300,000 cars.

Those found breaking the rule, which came into effect on 31 March, can be given fines of up to EUR1,500 – an amount that can be surpassed in the case of repeat offences.

The law was initially proposed by the Citizen’s Convention on Climate – an initiative whereby members of the public were asked to provide ideas for tackling climate change.

“The use of heating systems or other air-cooling technology that consumes energy in the public space and functions outside is banned,” reads the law.

Some French cities, such as Lyon, already had bans in place.

However, there are four exemptions to the rule:

  • Closed tents at circuses and funfairs are permitted to use heating;
  • Mobile installations at cultural, sporting or temporary festive events can use heating – if they are covered/have protection from the rain;
  • Waiting areas in stations, ports and airports may still use outdoor heating;
  • Bars, restaurants and cafés where the terrace area is covered and has sealed lateral faces, connected to the outer wall of the establishment with an airtight joint, can also use outdoor heaters (if local authorities do not object).

Restaurants can still use outdoor heaters if they are located in an interior courtyard, rather than on street-facing terraces.

While environmentalists welcome the measure – one they have been campaigning for years to enact – some business owners will be worried.

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