“More access to water, more shade, more coolness” will be the triple-treat in the coming months for anyone in the city, as part of the “Paris s’adapt” plan, unveiled by city hall on Tuesday.
“Starting this summer, we’ll step up adaptation measures to prepare the city for extreme heat”, Dan Lert, the capital’s deputy mayor in charge of the Ecological Transition, the Climate Plan, Water and Energy.
According to a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health in April, Paris has the highest ‘lethal risk’ of any European city during heatwaves, and is warming twice as fast as the global average.
Last year, excess deaths in the greater Paris Île-de-France region rose 27 percent among over-75s and 13 percent for those aged between 15 and 74 during heatwaves. In addition, there were 2,082 emergency room visits (1,333 of which required hospitalisation) and 285 SOS Médecins interventions.
The city also suffers from the ‘urban heat island’ effect – meaning it is significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas due to human activities – which can push temperatures up an additional 10C during hot periods. The temperature difference is usually larger at night than during the day.
“The summer of 2022, with 22 days of heatwave, was a foretaste of what lies ahead. This will be the norm in Paris in the future,” Lert told Libération.
By 2050, the capital’s climate is predicted to be similar to that of Seville, with an average of three weeks of heatwave per year, temperature peaks of 50C and three times as many ‘tropical nights’ – when the temperature doesn’t fall below 20C – compared to today.
This summer, to reinforce an existing network of 1,200 fountains and almost 1,000 “cool islands” (green spaces, air-conditioned public buildings, swimming areas…), 73 “extremely water-efficient” misting fountains, 10 misters and 24 additional shaded areas will be installed.
An additional 29 so-called “Oasis courtyards” will be created, to complement the 100 already in existence. These areas have more vegetation than other parts of the city, which has “ a significant impact in terms of cooling”.
The number of cool islands in Paris has increased between five and seven-fold since 2020, according to City Hall.
In 2022, Paris tested six removable wooden shades in the 12th arrondissement. “Below them, we noted a reduction in temperature of almost 10C,” Lert said. “The feedback has been extremely positive, which is why we’re extending the scheme.”
Meanwhile, an experiment of repainting roofs on day nurseries, schools and gymnasiums white – a colour that reflects sunlight – has been deemed a success, reducing temperatures inside by as much as 6C.
In total, the roofs of another 40 crèches, schools and libraries will be painted white by 2025.
While the capital hasn’t seen any rain for weeks, Lert insisted that “there is no shortage of water in Paris and there won’t be”. But he refused to rule out the possibility of restrictions later in the summer if necessary.
He said some 800 shopkeepers have pledged to refill water bottles on request free of charge, part of the L’eau de Paris plan which encourages people to ditch plastic bottles of mineral water and drink tap water from refillable bottles.
The city is also aiming to make water savings of 10 percent, and will continue work to limit the leak rate to 8 percent.