To cope with surging electricity costs, Paris is to start switching off ornamental lights on city monuments earlier than usual, as well as reduce heating in public buildings. Meanwhile, a petition to turn off digital advertising screens has garnered thousands of signatures.
The Eiffel Tower, usually bathed in a warm glow until 1am, and which comes ablaze with sparkling white lights every hour, will now go dark after the last visitor leaves, at 11:45pm.
Other monuments such as the City Hall, or Hôtel de Ville, the Tour Saint-Jacques, municipal museums and town halls in each arrondissement will go dark from 10pm as of the 23 September.
It will be a potential disappointment for the tens of millions of tourists to the romantic City of Light.
Streets lights, however, will remain switched on for security reasons, as will the illuminations of the city’s ornate bridges over the Seine river, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Tuesday.
The “energy sobriety” plan aims to cut energy use by 10 percent, she said, which could help soften the blow of rising costs by some €10 million euros.
In August, President Emmanuel Macron warned that high energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine could signal “the end of abundance”, widely interpreted as preparing public opinion for a difficult winter ahead.
Hidalgo, a Socialist who played up her efforts to green Paris during a failed presidential run earlier this year, said she would also push the government to do the same for national monuments in the city, such as the Pantheon or the Arc de Triomphe.
On top of lighting, Hidalgo said the temperature in the city’s buildings will be lowered by one degree during the day, from 19 to 18°C, excluding retirement homes and childcare centres, and to 12°C in the evening and on weekends.
The temperature of the 40 Parisian swimming pools will also be reduced by one degree, both “outside the water and in the pool”, she said. It is now set at 27°C for air and 26°C in water.
Petition to switch off billboards
On Tuesday several French NGOs signed a petition demanding that lighting for digital advertising screens also be turned off, arguing it was inconsistent with a society increasingly marked by ecological and social urgency.
The text, signed by over 2,000 people and several elected officials was addressed to Macron.
Environmental groups, meanwhile, said a recent government decision asking companies to switch off illuminated signs and advertising failed to “respond to the problem of consumption peaks at noon and in the evening”.
Ademe, the public agency tasked with measuring environmental impact, counted 55,000 digital billboards in France in 2019, compared to 40,000 in 2017.
“A 2m² digital LCD advertising screen consumes 2,049 kWh/year, which is close to the average consumption of a French household for lighting and household appliances (without heating)”.
The Citizen’s Convention for the Climate had already proposed in 2020 the banning of advertising video screens “in public space, public transport and in points of sale”.
Meanwhile, on a European level, another round of talks for the bloc’s energy ministers has been set for 30 September, according to Czech Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela, whose country now holds the rotating presidency.
Among the “unprecedented measures” to tackle the energy crisis, the 27-nation bloc is contemplating a price cap on gas that could further anger the Kremlin, following sanctions against Russia adopted after it invaded Ukraine in February.
Read More:‘City of Light’ Paris flicks dimmer switch to save on energy costs