Why the City of Light Is About to Get a Lot Greener

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A rendering of the Palais Garnier shows what the opera house will look like when it’s ensconced in a grove. The Paris Agreement made a lot of headlines when it was adopted in December 2015. Drafted in the French capital in cooperation with the United Nations, the global accord calls on every country in the world to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and give infrastructure an environmentally conscious upgrade. In the three-plus years since the compact was signed, France has announced a handful of policies that will be applied within its borders: banning petrol and diesel vehicles, eliminating coal-fueled electricity, and investing billions of dollars in sustainable-energy methods, among other things. Now, the city where the namesake agreement was signed is going one step further. Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently announced an ambitious plan to make Paris greener—literally. If all goes according to plan, “urban forests” will soon sprout near many of Paris’s historic landmarks, including the Gare de Lyon railway station and the Hôtel de Ville (city hall). These pockets of trees—which will spring up in both hidden and heavily foot-trafficked areas—are intended to simultaneously beautify and cool the increasingly hot city (which reached record high temperatures of 100-plus degrees Fahrenheit […]

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