Paris – Long a favorite place for picnics and sunbathing, the lawns around the Eiffel Tower have recently become the scene of angry protests. came first Campaign on social media. then crowdy by dozens of locals. Before long, a protester was walking around In a plane tree nearby to go on hunger strike.
What is the source of their anger? A plan is to cut down more than 20 trees, some over 100 years old, around the tower as part of an effort to build a massive park and ease tourist congestion.
The controversy is just the latest in a series that has swept through Paris City Hall as it attempts to green the city, a task that seems even more urgent as scorching temperatures drop in the French capital, and the rest of Europe.
Local authorities Redesigning the urban landscape of Paris to make it more climate friendlyBut a growing number of residents say that large-scale logging around the capital paradoxically undermines the city’s environmental ambitions.
Trees are one of the best defenses against radiation that contributes to heat waves that are increasing everywhere due to global warming. It provides much-needed cooling in busy cities like Paris, where temperatures were above 90 degrees on Monday afternoon and are expected to rise.
“Without trees, the city is an unbearable oven,” said Tanguy Le Dantec, urban planner and co-founder of the Aux Arbres Citoyens group, which is protesting against logging in Paris.
In recent months, small protests have spread across Paris, as residents and activists rallied around trees condemned by sprawling urban development projects that have at times turned the capital into a massive construction site.
In April, hm filmed He cut down 76 trees, most of them decades old, in Porte de Montreuil on the northern outskirts of Paris. City Hall wants to turn the site into a huge plaza, part of a project by the mayor, Ann HidalgoTo make or to inventgreen beltaround the capital.
“Miss. Thomas Braille, founder of the National Tree Observation Group, said as machines cut trees behind him, at video Shot in April. Subsequently, Mr. Brill organized an 11-day hunger strike in the plane tree near the Eiffel Tower.
Yves Kontasso, a former Paris deputy mayor in charge of the environment and a member of the Green Party, said logging has become “a very sensitive question that is causing a bit of a scandal at a time when we are talking about fighting global warming in the big cities.”
At first, the plan to redevelop the traffic-clogged area around the Eiffel Tower seemed environmentally sound to Parisians. Most vehicles will be banned, and a network of footpaths, bike lanes and parks will be created.
‘A new green lung’, the city council bragged about it website.
But residents discovered in May that the plan also meant cutting down 22 well-established trees and threatening the root system of many others, including a 200-year-old flying tree planted long before the Eiffel Tower was built in the late 1880s.
“The poor tree was planted in 1814, and one morning some men wanted to make room for baggage storage, and it was washed away,” said Mr. Brill, a protester who went on a hunger strike in the tree. for visitors.
A series of protests, as well as Online petition which collected more than 140,000 signatures, forced the city council on May 2 to change its plans and pledge not to cut down a single tree as part of a greening project.
Emmanuel Gregoire, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of urban planning and architecture, said in an interview that the city realized it was “losing a symbolic battle over the project’s green ambitions.”
In 2007, Paris adopted a climate plan that helped reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 20 percent from 2004 to 2018, and nearly doubled its renewable energy consumption, according to the recent report by the regional authorities. Paris’ new goal is to become a carbon-neutral city powered only by renewable energy by 2050.
Mr Le Dantec, the urban planner, acknowledged that “in terms of pollution reduction, there has undoubtedly been an improvement”. Noting Mrs. Hidalgo’s success, though contested, Plans to reduce car use in the capital.
But he added that Paris’ urban blueprints neglected another reality of climate change: rising temperatures, against which trees are one of the best defenses.
Trees cool cities by providing shade and mitigate the effects of the so-called “urban heat islands” that dot Paris, by absorbing radiation. At Météo France, the national meteorological service estimated That the temperatures on those heat islands during recent heat waves were sometimes 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding areas.
In the middle of June, while France was suffocating in scorching temperatures, Mr. Le Dantec wandered around Paris with a thermometer. In Republic Square, is registered Temperatures reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit on concrete surfaces, compared to 82 degrees under a 100-year-old flat tree.
“Our best protection from heat waves are trees,” said Dominique Dupre-Henry, a former architect at the Ministry of the Environment and co-founder of Aux Arbres Citoyens.
But out of the 30 big cities he studied Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyParis has the lowest tree cover, at around 9 percent, compared to 12.7 percent in London and 28.8 percent in Oslo.
“This is exactly the opposite of adaptation to climate change,” said Ms. Dupree Henry.
Mr. Gregoire said Paris plans to plant 170,000 new trees by 2026. Taking the example of Porte de Montreuil, the area north of Paris, he said that more trees would be planted rather than cut down.
“It is a project with very high environmental standards,” said Mr. Gregoire, stressing the transformation of what is now a massive asphalt rotunda into a green plaza. “The result is positive in terms of combating urban heat islands.”
Regional environmental authorities are less confident. in their own evaluation Of the project, they noted that the new construction and infrastructure work “will, on the contrary, add more heat.”
Mr. Le Dantec also said that in the short term, young trees are less effective than older trees at mitigating global warming, because their leaves are smaller and cannot absorb as much radiation. “A 100-year-old tree equals 125 newly planted trees” in terms of absorbing carbon dioxide and cooling its surroundings, he said.
In Porte de Montreuil, residents had mixed feelings about the project. Lo Richert Lebon, a 57-year-old designer, praised the “green efforts,” saying it would help improve the quality of life in this long-declining suburb.
Standing in the shade of plane trees due to be cut down, she added, as part of a redesign of a flea market in the area, “the lawns don’t equal the trees.” “Trees should be integrated into these efforts, rather than as an adaptation variable.”