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ENVIRONMENT

Supermarket floats Seine idea

For the first time since the Middle Ages the River Seine in Paris is being revived as a means of commercial transport.

Supermarket floats Seine idea
Photo: Flickr user gt8073a

Supermarket chain Franprix on Monday inaugurated their new aquatic delivery system, which is being used to stock 80 of their 350 stores in the centre of the French capital.

In a modern variation on the agricultural deliveries of times past, 26 containers of goods daily will be carried by river from a depot east of the city to a central distribution point located near the Eiffel Tower.

Trucks will still be used to transport products from the docks to stores, but the switch to barges for the journey into the city will take 15 lorries per day off the streets of Paris and save 234 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to the company.

In itself, that will not have a major impact on pollution in a city that generates two million tons of emissions each year.

But Franprix and the maritime and city authorities involved in the pilot project are hopeful that the idea of making greater use of the Seine will catch on quickly.

Franprix director Jean-Paul Mochet said water-born deliveries were no more expensive than using lorries. "And it means less pollution, fewer traffic jams and a lot less noise," he said.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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