Tourists may be advised to visit Paris during the cooler seasons, as the city suffocates in heat and has been described by many as a giant sauna.
According to a new study published by the Lancet Planet Health, Paris has been ranked as the European city with the greatest risk for heat-related deaths followed by Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Zagreb in Croatia. Authorities are preparing for “Paris at 50C”.
The study found the famous city to be 1.6 times more likely to experience heat-related death compared to the other 854 urban cities across Europe that were analysed from January 2000 to December 2019.
According to the AFP, Paris “could experience heat waves on average as 34 days per year by 2080, compared to 14 days per year in the 2010s”.
Experts have pointed to a few reasons why Paris is succumbing to its hot summers. The first key fact to be noted is that the data included the impacts of the 2003 heat wave, which hit France particularly hard with Paris recording an excess mortality of 141 percent. Between 15,000 to 19,000 people died as a result of the extreme heat that year.
Paris is an Urban Heat Island
Urban heat island effect (UHI) is a phenomenon that occurs when large cities experience increased temperatures due to dense concentrations of heat-absorbing concrete, less green space and weaker winds. The city of Paris was sometimes 10C warmer than its surrounding suburbs and urban areas, according to 20 Minutes.
Paris consists of Haussmannian buildings that were built between 1850 and 1870 with zinc rooftops that keep heat in, as well as many apartments not having air-conditioning, making the hot summers even more difficult for fellow Parisians.
The Paris metro system is an important form of transport for many civilians but due to its overly constructed infrastructure and impermeable nature, it becomes an underground sauna as the roads above heat up, causing the dense crowds of people beneath to heat up too.
Nowadays, during heatwaves, the city maintains a database of elderly residents who receive regular phone calls made on request to check on their well-being. The city also publishes an interactive map to show people where they can go to cool down.
In response to the city's hot fate, members from all political groups put forward 85 recommendations to prevent the capital from becoming inhabitable. Some of these included creating a “big band in the thermal renovation of buildings”, making greener streets, repainting roofs a lighter colour, promoting swimming and even changing the way we work. The recommendations ranged from simple, quick and cost-effective solutions to immense projects that could have the power to transform how society functions entirely.
The call for action has been made and the city’s new climate plan and the Paris environmental health plan are now currently being advised. New urban planning regulations have been drafted and will be presented to the Council of Paris in June. Nonetheless, environmentalists and urban planners remain adamant that if Paris wants to remain habitable after 2050, big changes must be made urgently.
Edited by: Yasmin Hailes
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