Planet Earth 2007: Paris Makes Progress

Paris, the City of Lights, launched a vast energy-saving operation in 2003 by replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with metal iodide light bulbs on 125 of its monuments.

The metal iodide lights bulbs have five times more energy efficiency than the regular incandescent light bulbs. The advantages of these light bulbs is that they provide excellent light, have exceptional long bulb life and have low cost per lumen of light output.

Four years later, the $2.33 million operation is about to be completed. And the results are spectacular.

More Efficient Lights for the City of Lights

The number of floodlights on each monument has been divided by 1.8. At the end of 2006, 1,169 iodide light bulbs had replaced 2,087 incandescent light bulbs.

Today, just 218 kilowatts are necessary to power up the floodlights on the 280 Paris monuments, down 927 kilowatts from what was needed before 2003. The operating cost for an iodide light bulb is 50 percent less expensive than for a standard light bulb, and the power bill is four times lower than it was previously.

But Paris has been going even further in its energy-saving policy. While many other big cities around the world keep the lights on their famous landmarks at night, Paris is turning the lights off on most of its monuments.

This is nothing new to Parisians. It started in the 1950s, way before fighting climate change became one of our top priorities.

Every night, at midnight or 1 a.m., depending on the monument and the season, the lights on monuments are automatically turned off for cost-saving purposes.

The Road to a Cleaner City

Long known for its traffic jams and its pollution, the city is also attempting to address these problems. Since being elected in 2001, socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoƫ has successfully reduced traffic volume by 10 percent by multiplying bus lanes, cutting parking spaces, widening pavements and by promoting public transportation.

And the mayor recently unveiled new plans to cut traffic in Paris by 40 percent by 2020.

These plans include, among other measures, the reconfiguration of 10 major boulevards to make them more friendly to bicyclists, pedestrians and buses, extra late night and early morning subway service, and more water taxis.

However, Delanoƫ is criticized by many Parisians for having increased traffic problems and congestion in the city. His new plans should be adopted in 2008 after a public inquiry and a further vote by local mayors.