Paris Greening the City of Light

Paris Greening the City of Light

Submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Stephanie Tapolsky

France’s most famous and populous city has been working to become sustainable since the mid 2000’s. Le Plan Climat de Paris was adopted in 2007 and targeted a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 per 2004 levels. Targets of a 25% reduction in energy consumption and deriving 25% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 were also included. Additionally, various plans concerning urbanization, waste, food, the habitat, transportation and resource management were covered within the plan. According to Paris officials, in 2020, the city’s carbon footprint of 22.7 million tons C02 equivalents in 2018 was a 20% decrease from 2004 levels. Local emissions of 5.5 Mt C02 equivalents in 2018 were down 25% from 2004 levels whereas energy consumption levels of 30.8 TWh in 2018 saw a 9% decrease from 2004 levels. Paris also has an ambitious 2020-2030 Operational Action Plan which targets a 50% decrease (compared to 2004 levels) of local GHG emissions and a 40% reduction in the city’s tertiary carbon footprint.

Emission reduction highlights of the plan include being carbon-neutral, having zero local emissions and reducing Paris’s carbon footprint by 80%, compared to 2004 levels, all by 2050. To achieve these targets, the city will need to be powered 100% by renewable energy and cut its energy consumption in half by 2050, while also increasing its carbon-compensation. With the majority of emissions coming from housing and transportation, Paris will need to thermally renovate more than a million homes and fifty million square meters of non-housing buildings and shift transportation to carbon neutral options.  The city is greatly expanding its green space by planning and planting numerous urban forests throughout reclaimed roads and open areas.

Figure 1: Carbon Reduction Pathway, Le Plan Climat de Paris 2018 (page 10)

The city government is executing the plan with Anne Hidalgo (Paris’s mayor since 2014) working closely with the deputy mayor responsible for the ecological transition and climate action plan. Understood as an economic opportunity, the transition will be financed through a variety of sources with a focus on shifting current capital to the areas that require investment. This will be realized through new private-public partnerships, diversifying financial solutions and developing new solutions to create a robust green financing network from the local, national and international levels. It specifically asks inhabitants to shift their savings to low-carbon and sustainable products and local financiers to decarbonize their portfolios. The government, on both the local and national levels, will provide large amounts of funding with Paris already having invested 10 billion euros between 2014-2020 for sustainability projects. Paris created a municipal investment fund in 2017 for the ecological transition to incentivize private investment.

The main strength of Le Plan Climat is its extensive and comprehensive reach to truly transform Paris into a sustainable and carbon-neutral city. Importantly, the plan looks at outer Paris emissions, or emissions generated up stream from the city, instead of writing those off as unimportant. The city also conducted extensive research on the policies within the plan to understand the effects on equity, employment and well-being to ensure an inclusive and fair transition. While the plan is extensive and progress has already been realized, there is room for improvement.

Critically, there is no mention of ensuring the construction enabling the transition to be as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible. With the construction industry being one of the most energy, carbon and resource intensive industries, the city should actively plan to minimize the environmental and emission impacts created. While the plan mentions recycling and re-using construction materials, it does not set any explicit targets or plans for which to do so. Finally, while social and distributional impacts are evaluated and the new jobs the transition and a carbon–neutral economy will create emphasized, there is no mention of assisting individuals in transitioning to these new jobs. Paris should outline explicit programs and funding to reskill and upskill individuals for these new jobs with the most vulnerable individuals not being forgotten.



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