The smart urban transformation of Paris towards a green net zero city

Quality of life and a local way of living, have become more apparent during the pandemic, particularly, when it comes to the time investment required in cities, to access basic, local experiences and services, urban features and infrastructure, and social/human engagement.

As a post-pandemic recovery strategy, mayors and urban planners from all over the world increasingly started to introduce ‘15-minute cities’, enabling citizens to ‘return to a local way of life’, where especially Paris, made the first headlines transitioning towards the concept.

Image source: https://www.archdaily.com/970873/the-concept-of-15-minute-city-wins-2021-obel-award

The idea behind it is simple. In 15-minute cities, comprised of smaller 15-minute neighborhoods, residents have the ability to meet all their everyday needs locally, all within a 15-minute journey from their home, by walking, cycling, (electric riding), or public transport.

15-minute cities, which derived from ‘Neighbourhood units’ from the 20’s, ‘New Urbanism’ from the 80’s, and ‘urban cells’ from the last decade, have a higher focus on decentralized and sustainable development, taking proximity, diversity, density, and ubiquity into account.

During the time of ‘urban cells’, 30 and 20 minute-neighborhoods, were still considered efficient, but right now, cities such as Brussels, already embrace the 10-minute city, Vancouver presented a 5-minute city, and Stockholm, even started piloting a modular 1-minute-city.

It reduces reliance on private vehicles and decreases air pollution, while more attention is given to local essentials such as shopping, health facilities, and services, schools, lifelong learning opportunities, playgrounds, parks, green spaces, community gardens, sport, and recreation.

Other important factors are safe streets, affordable housing, housing diversity, ability to age in place, walkability, safe cycling networks, public transport, employment opportunities, connection to public transport, and jobs and services, all contributing to the quality of living.

Paris strives to become Europe’s greenest city in 2030, in alignment with the Mission Board for climate-neutral and smart cities, which does require multi-level, co-creative, systemic transformation, to create real pleasant living environments that are also adapted to the climate.

By 2030, Paris wants to half greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprint by 40%, energy consumption by 35%, becoming a zero fossil fuel and domestic heating oil area, while using 45% renewable energy (10% locally produced) and improving air quality to the WHO standard.

In order to achieve such 2030 targets, major, local urban transformations are getting planned from Champs-Élysées to Place de la Concorde, while architect Vincent Callebaut, is even already envisioning what a smart Paris could look like in 2050, by prototyping energy-plus towers.

In 2050, the focus will lie on climate resilience, carrying out a socially fair transition to a zero greenhouse area, reducing carbon footprint by 80%, energy consumption by 50%, residential emissions to carbon neutral, using 100% renewable energy (20% locally produced).

Will Paris be the first EU capital to reach net zero? How fast do we really need amenity accessibility and carbon neutrality in our home environments? Will hyper-local planning, connect us more, or maybe make us more isolated? How efficient and green do you expect your city to be?

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts below!

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Enver Vetter

Enver Vetter

As a HU lecturer, I publish free, quick-insight publications of a maximum 5-minute read, to spark ethical, sustainable, commercial & futuristic thinking