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Why is this French city banning patio heaters in winter?

Terrace of a cafe in Lyon, France.
Terrace of a cafe in Lyon, France.   -   Copyright  Canva
By Doloresz Katanich  with AFP

In a bid to limit carbon emissions, terrace heaters in cafes, restaurants and bars are now prohibited in Lyon.

A nationwide ban on terrace heaters will come into force in France in 2022 after being postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. But the environmentalist mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet, has decided to get ahead of the curve - just as he promised in last year's election campaign.

The City of Lyon has issued a municipal decree which "henceforth prohibits all types of heating, whether fixed or mobile and whatever their mode of operation".

Those who do not respect this measure risk a suspension of their terrace and a fine of 35 euros, warned the mayor. The new rule is part of the city's climate-air-energy plan.

Lyon is not the first French city to ban terrace heaters, however.

"Although the cities of Rennes and Thonon already took these measures a few years ago, few cities had followed suit," says Doucet.

In France, patio heaters are responsible for the emission of half a million tonnes of CO2 per year, according to a study by the association NegaWatt.

They also calculated that the energy consumption of a terrace equipped with five heaters, lit for 14 hours a day from mid-November to mid-March, uses 50,400 kWh of energy - emitting 13.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process.

That is the equivalent of the emission of a 120,000 km car trip. The same terrace, equipped with 10 electric heaters, consumes only 25,200kWh over the same period.

The ban was called for by the Citizen's Climate Convention and the Minister for Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, and will come into force throughout France on 31 March 2022.

To compensate for any loss of turnover, Lyon City Hall has promised businesses that they can extend the area that their terraces cover throughout the summer.

Watch the video to see how restaurants in Lyon react to this ban.