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France

French statues get anti-pollution masks during 'clean air' protest

media A statue bearing a mask during a protest against air pollution Place de la Concorde in Paris on March 31, 2018 Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Activists put masks on statues in Paris and other French cities on Saturday to highlight what they say is France's failure to tackle air pollution.

The protest coincided with a deadline for France to present a plan rectifying its shortcomings on air quality to the European Commission.

In a joint statement, environmental and anti-air pollution groups including France Nature Environment, ANV-COP 21, the Federation of Bicycle Users and Greenpeace, called for a clean air transport policy.

In February 2017, the European Union (EU) ordered five member countries including France, Britain and Germany to tighten controls on smog-causing car pollution or risk being sent to the top European court.

The commission has said that "persistently high" levels of nitrogen dioxide caused 70,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013, three times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents in the same year.

- with AFP

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