The green democracy of Grenoble

The city of Grenoble, France, became the EU Green Capital in 2022 and achieved the milestone of enabling homes to be powered completely by renewable energy. Mayor Eric Piolle believes the drive behind this ambition is due to the city's location in the Alps, where climate change has been directly visible. Average temperatures have increased more than 2C since 1900.

Since 2005, Grenoble has achieved a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and is France's top location for cycling. Grenoble is encouraging citizens to become more involved in the city's environmental strategy by proposing initiatives that are put to a public vote. Since 2015, €4mn has been spent on winning projects.

Grenoble is an incubator for green businesses, with four of the 22 companies selected by French Tech's Green20 programme located near the city. The programme offers government support and international reach to eco-tech startups.

However, Grenoble’s model is not without its challenges. Mayor Piolle banned hundreds of advertising billboards, replacing them with trees and noticeboards for local interest. This has generated a potential loss of between €150,000 and €600,000 a year in advertising revenue and some businesses have been left struggling. Also, for some people, road closures and car parking cuts can be frustrating.

Source: The Financial Times

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