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PARIS – Long a favorite spot for picnics and sunbathing, the lawns surrounding the Eiffel Tower have recently become the scene of violent protests. First came A Social media campaign. Then A Rallyy by dozens of local residents. Before long, there was a protester Sneak down At a nearby Vimana tree for a hunger strike.

The source of their anger? The plan is to cut down more than 20 trees over 100 years old around the tower as part of an effort to reduce the massive garden and tourist congestion.

The controversy over Paris City Hall’s efforts to green the city is all the more urgent as the French capital endures sweltering temperatures. and other parts of Europe.

Local authorities Redesigning Paris’ urban landscape to make it more climate-friendlyBut a growing number of residents say widespread deforestation around the capital is paradoxically undermining the city’s environmental aspirations.

Trees are considered the best defenses against radiation that contributes to increasing heat waves everywhere due to global warming. They provide much-needed cooling in dense cities like Paris, where temperatures were in the high 90s on Monday afternoon and are expected to rise.

debt…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

“Without trees, the city is an unbearable furnace,” said Tanguy Le Dantec, an urban planner and co-founder of Aux Arpres Citoens, a group that opposes deforestation in Paris.

In recent months, small protests have sprung up across Paris, with residents and activists sometimes rallying around trees condemned by sprawling urban development projects that have turned the capital into a giant construction site.

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In April, they Filmed 76 plane trees were felled, most of them decades old, in Port de Montreuil, a northern suburb of Paris. City Hall wants to turn the site into a big square, as part of the mayor’s plan, Anne Hidalgocreate “A green belt” around the capital.

“Ms. Hidalgo please stop the carnage,” said Thomas Brail, founder of the National Committee for Tree Watch, as the machines felled the trees behind him. Video He shot in April. Mr. Braille then went on an 11-day hunger strike at the plane tree near the Eiffel Tower.

debt…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

Yves Contassot, a former deputy mayor of Paris responsible for the environment and a member of the Green Party, said cutting down trees “has become a very important question that causes a little scandal at a time when we are talking about fighting global warming”. In big cities.”

At first, the plan to redevelop the traffic-congested area around the Eiffel Tower seemed environmentally friendly to Paris residents. Most vehicles will be banned, and a network of pedestrian paths, cycle paths and parks will be created.

“A new green lung,” City Hall boasts Website.

But residents discovered in May that the plan threatened to cut down 22 well-established trees and threaten the root systems of many others, including a 200-year-old plane tree planted long before the Eiffel Tower was built in the late 1880s.

“The poor tree was planted in 1814 and one morning some boys wanted to make room for storing luggage and it was blown away,” said Mr. Braille said, teasing plans to upgrade the facilities. For the audience.

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debt…Thomas Cox/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

A series of struggles, as well as a Online petition It collected more than 140,000 signatures, eventually forcing the City Council on May 2 to change its plans and pledge not to cut down a single tree as part of the greening plan.

Emmanuel Grégoire, the deputy mayor of Paris responsible for urban planning and architecture, said in an interview that the city felt it was “losing a symbolic battle over the project’s green ambitions.”

In 2007, Paris adopted a climate plan that helped reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 20 percent from 2004 to 2018, and nearly double its renewable energy consumption. Latest Report by regional authorities. Paris’ new goal is to become a carbon-neutral city powered solely by renewable energy by 2050.

Mr. Le Dantec acknowledged that urban planning has “undoubtedly made progress in reducing pollution.” Despite her competition, Ms. Hidalgo noted her success. Plans to limit car use In the capital.

But he said Paris’ urban plans have ignored another reality of climate change: rising temperatures, against which trees are considered some of the best defenses.

debt…Christophe Archambault/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Trees cool cities by providing shade and absorbing radiation, mitigating the effects of so-called “urban heat islands” prevalent in Paris. Météo France, the national weather service, has assessed During recent heat waves, temperatures on those heat islands are sometimes 9 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than surrounding areas.

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In mid-June, when France was suffocating in extreme temperatures, Mr. Le Dantec wandered around Paris with a thermometer. At the Place de la République, he Recorded Temperatures can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit on concrete surfaces, compared to 82 degrees under a 100-year-old plane tree.

“Trees are our best defense against heat waves,” said Dominique Dupre-Henry, a former architect at the Ministry of the Environment and co-founder of Aux Arpres Citoens.

But it examined 30 major cities Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyParis has 9 percent fewer trees, compared with 12.7 percent in London and 28.8 percent in Oslo.

“It’s the exact opposite of climate change,” Ms Dupre-Henry said.

Paris plans to plant 170,000 new trees by 2026, Mr. Gregoire said. If you take the Porte de Montreuil area in the north of Paris, more trees will be planted than cut down, he said.

debt…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

“This is a project with very high environmental standards,” said Mr. Gregoire said, now insisting on turning a large asphalt roundabout into a green square. “The effect is positive in combating urban heat islands.”

Regional environmental officials are less optimistic. their Assessment They noted that the project, building works and new infrastructure “will, on the contrary, add more heat”.

Mr. Le Dantec added that, in the short term, young trees are less effective at mitigating global warming than older trees because their foliage is smaller and cannot absorb as much radiation. “A 100-year-old tree is worth 125 newly planted trees,” he said, absorbing carbon dioxide and cooling its surroundings.

In Porte de Montreuil, residents had mixed feelings about the project. Low Richard LeBon, a 57-year-old designer, hailed the “green initiatives,” saying they would help improve the quality of life in this long-destroyed suburb.

But “grasslands aren’t worth trees,” he added, standing in the shade of plane trees slated to be cut down as part of a flea market redevelopment in the area. “Trees should be integrated into these efforts, rather than being the adjustment variable.”

Correction:

July 18, 2022

An earlier version of this article misstated how hotter Paris was than the surrounding area during recent heat waves. Temperatures in Paris ranged from 9 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit, not 40 to 50 degrees.

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