France bans heated, air-conditioned terraces

Famed outdoor terraces of restaurants, cafes, bars face decree to fight climate change.

France bans heated, air-conditioned terraces

The famed outdoor “terraces” of French restaurants, cafes, bars, and brasseries are henceforth prohibited from using heating or air conditioning systems for the comfort of their patrons, a government decree announced on Thursday as part of the measures to fight climate change.

The ban on the use of heating or air conditioning systems in the public domain outdoors was published in the official journal and comes into force on March 31.

According to the law, only closed and covered places are permitted to use heating or air conditioning systems. Violation of the law is punishable with a fine between 1,500 euros ($1661) and 3,000 euros ($3322).

The use of such outdoor systems causes high energy consumption and pollution. The prohibition is likely to save the release of tons of CO2.

Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili had deemed it an “ecologically aberrant practice that led to totally unjustified energy consumption.”

Heated terraces were introduced after France banned indoor smoking in restaurants, bars, and cafes. An estimated 70% of 17,000 terraces in the capital Paris alone are equipped with heating systems. The terraces are popular among customers and profitable for cafe and restaurant owners.

The ban was proposed by the 150-member Citizens' Convention on Climate, set up by President Emmanuel Macron in July 2020, in order to curb energy consumption and push France toward a greener economy.

Its enforcement was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic to help the hospitality sector mitigate the financial crisis caused by the health restrictions. The decree is in line with the climate law adopted in August 2021 to fight climate change.