For too long Paris has held the reputation of being home to snarling traffic jams, polluted freeways that run along the banks of the Seine, and warrens of beautiful, but unsustainable, 18th century narrow buildings. But, in the last five years, something has happened to the City of Light. And, as Paris plays host to Formula E this weekend, the spotlight is now shining on the city's green credentials
Paris is on-track to becoming more sustainable, and with mayor Anne Hidalgo in charge, it’s happening quickly. In 2007, Paris became one of the first cities in the world to adapt a climate action plan, setting out clear intentions to reduce greenhouse gasses.
Here’s how Paris is leading the way when it comes to sustainability.
The Eiffel Tower has wind turbines
Sure, it’s a marvel of ironwork and engineering, but did you know the Eiffel Tower also has wind turbines inside it? The turbines are able to generate 10,000 kilowatts of electricity per year. The turbines produce so much electricity that it’s enough to power the whole of the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. Recent renovations have also seen the installation of solar panels which create enough energy to supply 50 per cent of visitors heated water needs.
Car free Champs-Élysées
For 24 sweet hours, Paris’ luxurious Champs-Élysées strip goes car free. On the first Sunday of the month the avenue is pedestrianised so visitors can amble up and down the road enjoying the classical architecture without being interrupted by cars. The city has also made an effort to reduce the impact of cars in different ways. Older vehicles are actually banned from driving around the city centre between 8am and 8pm because they pollute more. Records show that this has been impactful and has seen a huge six per cent reduction in car traffic
Ride your Vélib'
In 2007, Paris’ then mayor launched a big municipal bike hire scheme called the Vélib' . There are 20,000 bicycles scattered across the city at 1,500 stations. This means centrally, they’re available every 300 metres or so. And don’t worry about having to weave in and out of traffic. There are 250 miles of bike lanes across Paris so you can get from the Louvre to the Musée d'Orsay without feeling like you’re racing in a Grand Prix. Check out the Itinéraires Paris-Piétons-Vélos-Rollers, parts of the city that are closed to cars on Sundays and holidays. Check www.paris.fr for more information.
Paris plans to become the sustainable capital of fashion by 2024
Paris Good Fashion is a group that has been launched by a group of forward-thinking fashion-lovers including Antoinette Guhl, deputy Mayor of Paris, and Frédéric Hocquard, an official within the Paris council. The group are working together to discover how sustainable Paris Fashion Week could become, Vogue reported in early 2019. The initiatives’ goal is to encourage fashion houses to adopt more eco-conscious practices. It’s not just the clothes that will be made more sustainable – the group is committed to boosting the eco-conscious credentials of transportation, shipping and construction too.
“It’s our task to invent a new future for fashion. Our role is to encourage creation while fighting against climate change, to continue production in France while protecting natural resources and to develop our industry while looking out for our artisans,” Antoinette Guhl told Vogue.
Paris’ centre is full of ancient, tall Baron Haussmann designed buildings. But go a little further out to Clichy-Batignolles and you’ll see an eco-village designed to look like the Paris of the future. An area that used to be a trainyard has been transformed into a cutting edge sustainable development. The buildings are all energy-efficient and provide housing and office space for thousands of Parisians: in 2016 the area won the Sustainable City Grand Prize. The buildings are designed to maximise insulation while some have been built with green roofs, which reduces the need for heating (and releases more oxygen into the area. Energy comes from renewable sources, including a geothermal tank below the streets. Best of all, the buildings are all located around a 22-acre Martin Luther King park, which is crucial in this part of Paris where green space is at a premium.
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