There’s a revolution happening in Paris – a green revolution that is. Since Anne Hidalgo took the mayorship in 2014, Paris’s residents have been in the middle of numerous initiatives designed to transform the city into Europe’s greenest by 2030.
It’s all but natural for the city to lead the sustainability movement. Paris is, after all, the home of the Paris Agreement from the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) that prescribed 1.5°C as the limit for global temperature increase to prevent severe climate change effects.
In our latest series called Green City Goals, we take a look at different cities around the world and how we can all learn from their sustainable initiatives, starting with Paris.
THE 15-MINUTE CITY
Central to Paris’ sustainability efforts is the realisation of the ’15-minute city’. This concept aims to promote the idea of “hyperproximity” where the basic essentials – public transport, shops, schools, etc – are all within 15 minutes from a Parisian home. Doing this not only strengthens the local (read: neighbourhood) economy but also reduces carbon emissions by encouraging walking or biking instead of driving.
See also: Take a walk on the wild side
THE NEW AMSTERDAM
Speaking of biking, we’re familiar with the stereotype of a Parisian on a bike, wearing a beret and carrying a baguette. Well, get ready to see more of this in the near future (beret and baguette, optional). City authorities cleverly took advantage of the reduced public commuting during the COVID-19 pandemic to build over 60km (out of a 180km target) of bike lanes to add to the city’s already extensive bike lane network.
By 2026, Paris aims to be 100% cyclable with over 180,000 bike parking spaces. This program is important as Paris has passed a resolution to ban diesel cars by 2024 and all petrol cars by 2030.
BRAND NEW LUNGS
Plans are also afoot to literally green the city. Urban planners will be creating ‘urban forests’ next to landmarks such as the Gare de Lyon and Opera Garnier to add more ‘lungs’ in an increasingly congested city. More than 170,000 trees are targeted to be planted by 2030 and this is further being encouraged by updating building codes to make it easier for residents to plant trees in their neighborhoods.
A GREENER CHAMPS ELYSEES
In addition to greening the city, another eye-popping plan is the proposal to create a ‘tree tunnel’ in Paris’s most famous thoroughfare – the Champs Elysees. This is part of the masterplan to make over the 19km street in time for the 2024 Olympic Games. Not only will this transform the area to a tree-lined, urban forest but also reduce the number of car lanes from four to two, to create more space for pedestrian and green areas.
30,000 BINS AND COUNTING
Did you know that Paris is blanketed with over 30,000 bins? That’s a waste bin available every 100 metres. Authorities took this important step to ensure that waste is discarded of and recycled properly, as Paris aims to adopt a zero-waste strategy and create a circular economy. Door-to-door collection is also being stepped up, especially from restaurants and food markets with the aim of halving food waste by 2025.
REPAIR INSTEAD OF CHUCKING
However, Paris doesn’t want their residents to get the wrong idea that more waste bins should equal more waste. Part of their zero-waste strategy is to also set up ‘Ressourceries’ around the city in an effort to teach Parisians to repair things instead of throwing them away. Whether it’s furniture, appliances, clothing, or even toys, this program lets people get hands-on with keeping their “broken” items out of landfill.
SPROUTING GREEN ROOFTOPS
Paris has a green roof law dating back to 2014 – when Hidalgo took the reins of the city. It decreed that new buildings built in commercial zones must be covered by plants or solar panels. Since then, the city has made its mark in renewable energy with over 76,000sqm of solar panels already installed on Paris rooftops. By 2030, the city is targeting to have 20% of buildings equipped with these PV cells.
ZERO INTEREST ECO LOANS
One of the biggest obstacles in Paris’ greening initiatives is the question of what to do with older, heritage buildings. While new developments can easily be made sustainable and receive the ‘Habitat et Evironnement’ certification, it is tricky to retrofit older buildings and require more investment. While there is no set official template, the city government has been encouraging owners to go green by extending financial incentives such as tax credits and zero interest eco-loans.
See also: 10 Most Eco-friendly Cities in the World
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