The Opening Ceremony of next year’s Paris Olympics is less than a year away, and the French capital is gearing up to host the world. Now an upcoming proposal from the Parisian Green Party is set to get tongues wagging at the next city council meeting. They’re suggesting that, for the six weeks of the Games – from the eve of the Olympics to the end of the Paralympics – Paris (and nearby towns affected by the event) should go totally car-free. Not only that, but the city should offer free public transport.
To back up their case, the group has laid out 14 reasons, touching on everything from plain common sense to environmental and safety issues. They’re also reminding folks of commitments made by various layers of government.
For instance, they point out the challenge of managing a flow of 15 million people in public spaces and on public transport; carbon emissions estimated at 1.58 megatonnes; and Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s statements about the Games being a ‘catalyst for ecological transition’. Plus, they're suggesting the whole free transport thing could be funded by an eco-levy on ecommerce deliveries.
So that’s the proposal. Now comes the hard part: making it happen. When it comes to free transport, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a long shot. The fate of the transport network is in the hands of IDF Mobilités, chaired by Valérie Pécresse, who seems more likely to hike up travel pass prices than hand out free rides.
And as for getting this motion through the council, it’s a bit of an uphill struggle. From the right-wing oppoosition, forget it – David Alphand, the vice-president of the group, has said ‘It’s all hot air. These are the Green Party’s crazy ideas.’ On the majority side, which includes the Green Party, things are still in discussion.
Green council member Fatoumata Koné told France 3, ‘Opinion isn't necessarily in favour at this stage, but I get the feeling that things might shift; it seems to be moving in the right direction.’ What comes next is anyone’s guess, because even if the proposal gets the thumbs-up, there will still need be negotiations with local authorities and the various towns hosting the Games.
So yeah, there’s still a long way to go. But if the Greens get their way, this could be a major step for sustainability at the Olympics.
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