Europe’s cities should take lead on environmental change, says Lyon’s first Green mayor
Europe’s leading cities should form a network to influence environmental policy across the continent, the new mayor of Lyon has told Dailyrater.
Grégory Doucet was at the head of a green wave in France’s recent local elections, becoming mayor of the country’s third-largest city.
Now he says like-minded mayors in other countries should join with him to help influence policy in Brussels.
“Environmental awareness in Europe’s institutions isn’t completely there yet, that’s why the work continues,” he told the Global Conversation. “The work of MEPs is, of course, important but above all so is this network of European cities that I’d like to see, which could influence European institutions, which would enable us to show the way and say: 'Here we are, we’re ready. Look at what we are doing in our cities.' ”
Doucet confirmed his opposition to a proposed high-speed rail link between Lyon and Turin.
“Do we decide to put €8 billion euros in an infrastructure which in reality duplicates an existing infrastructure?” he said. “ When today you can see in Lyon, and around Lyon and more generally across the country, that we’ve not invested enough in freight, we’ve not invested enough in everyday train services. What I am saying is this project, this investment, will prevent us from investing where there are real needs today. It’s a matter of priorities.”
He said the city needed to change its tourism strategy to reduce dependence on visitors using air travel.
“Eventually, in a few decades, flying will become an exception - and it’s in that direction that we should be heading,” he said. “So faced with that reality, what should we do today? Should we wait 20 or 30 years to be forced to make a sudden switch because temperatures will have risen so high we no longer have a choice? No, we have to start doing it now. That’s why I say the priority is to reorientate the tourism sector towards the national and European levels. The goal isn’t to ban flights to Lyon tomorrow, of course. The goal is to gradually reduce the market share and to have a tourism strategy more focused on Europe.”