Wikimedia Commons photo of Paris street
The climate emergency exploded onto the headlines in 2018, with a relentless series of disasters leading up to the UN COP 24 climate conference in December. But the people cutting climate pollution by creating delightful urban spaces on an unprecedented scale should be headline news in 2019.
I experienced some of this climate action in October, joining throngs of Paris residents enjoying warm fall days on the new linear park along the River Seine. At the time the national government of France was in court attempting to get this well-loved park turned back into the noisy, congested national highway it was previously (except during summer festivals). The court ruled in favor of year-round access and climate action while I was in Spain.
Anne Hidalgo is the Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities, a group of large city governments committed to the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement. “Cities have been the loudest voices calling for bold and urgent climate action, because we are conscious of the threat it poses to our citizens […] Cities are ready to lead on the transformations necessary to secure the future that we want” said Hildago in a C40 media release.
Hildago is aiming to rapidly cut automobile traffic by 50 per cent, and has already cut traffic volumes significantly. Paris’s successes have largely been achieved by re-allocating space to transit lanes, protected bicycle lanes, pedestrianized streets and plazas, and most famously by creating linear parks along the River Seine. These actions are popular, and not just because they create nicer urban spaces and reduce local air pollution. MORE