Paris 2024: Greener Olympics?
The postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have only drawn to a close a few months ago, but Anne Hidalgo’s sights have, for many years prior, been firmly set on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Aiming to host the most environmentally sustainable Olympics in history, the Parisian mayor has extremely ambitious plans in order to make the French capital as sustainable as possible, in time for it to be judged on the world stage.
Olympics green/er in Paris: overly optomistic?
The wider environmental aim is for the 2024 Paris Olympics to be the first Games to be aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement which came into force in November 2016.
This means that the Games will, in theory, see a 55% decrease in the carbon footprint compared with the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Hidalgo aims to achieve this by creating swimming areas in the Seine, doubling the number of cycle lanes which would allow a greater number of spectators to use clean transportation, creating new sites of biodiversity in the northern department of Seine-Saint-Denis, and using 100% green energy during the Games.
But perhaps the most ambitious initiative on Hidalgo’s agenda is to radically reduce the number of motor vehicles in the Paris Area. Hidalgo has pledged to reduced carbon emissions by 75% by 2050. By 2020, high-polluting cars will be banned altogether, and huge swathes of the Paris Region will be pedestrianised, creating more tranquil spaces and a radically reduced level of air pollution.
Will Paris be recognisable? What of the famous landmarks…
One of the streets which is being specifically targeted in Hidalgo’s agenda is the distinguished avenue of the Champs Élysées. Renowned for being one of the most beautiful and recognisable streets in the world, multiple grèves, gilets jaunes demonstrations, and military parades have somewhat compromised the street’s Parisian splendour. Pre-pandemic, the eight-lane avenue saw more than 3 000 vehicles pass through every hour, hence Hidalgo plans to turn the 1.9km stretch into a bucolic setting, creating a walkway of trees, albeit this will not be completed before the city hosts the Olympics.
Translated literally as the Elysian Fields, the Champs Élysées, under the reign of Louis XIV, was largely fields and kitchen gardens, hence the renovations will somewhat restore the natural quintessence for which the street was once known. At an estimated cost of 250 million euros, Hidalgo is not holding back.
Another area that is in need of an ecological revamp is the Eiffel Tower area. Hidalgo plans to transform the heart of the seventh arrondissement into an elegant garden, free from traffic and lined with trees and picturesque fountains, culminating in one of the world’s most recognisable and admired monuments. Parts of these renovations should be completed in time for the Games, which will undoubtedly contribute to Paris’s reputation as one of the leading cities of environmental prowess.
Ambition meets collaboration
Hidalgo’s plans are ambitious – there’s no doubt.
But if she executes them within the suggested time frame, Paris could pave the way for environmental change.
Ultimately, controlling climate change will be a collaborative effort and not one which Paris can take on alone. With Cop26 just days away, it is clear that this is the last chance to avoid the climate catastrophe. Hidalgo’s efforts are admirable, but whilst the 2024 Olympics shine the spotlight on Paris, the Paris Climate Agreement is an international treaty, not a national one.
What are your thoughts on the plans and ambitions of the Paris Olympics 2024? Please share your views in the comments below.
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