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People observe the damage to Notre-Dame de Paris from the April 15, 2019, on May 1. Jeanne Menjoulet / CC BY-ND 2.0

Paris officials sealed off the area around the Notre Dame Cathedral to remove lead particles that have settled after a devastating fire destroyed the iconic cathedral's roof and spire in April.

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Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15 in Paris, France. Veronique de Viguerie / Getty Images

When Paris's Notre Dame caught fire on April 15, the flames threatened more than eight centuries of culture and history. The fire evoked shock, horror and grief worldwide. While the cathedral burned, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed determination to rebuild what the French regard as a sacred site.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mónica R. Goya

By Mónica R. Goya

Agricool is a Parisian urban agriculture tech start-up that recently raised $28 million to scale its business: growing strawberries in reclaimed shipping containers in central Paris using vertical farming methods. Since the plants are cultivated using aeroponics — that is, by spraying a mist of water and nutrients on the plants' exposed roots (as opposed to the plants growing in soil) — their process uses 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture. Pesticides aren't needed because they grow in a controlled environment, and their carbon footprint is almost nonexistent because the transportation radius is less than 20 kilometers. Additionally, they claim to be 120 times more productive than traditional, soil-based agriculture, and their LED lights are powered by renewable energy.

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A man stands at a 'uritrottoir' public urinal on Aug. 13 on the Saint-Louis island in Paris, as a 'bateau mouche' tourist barge cruises past. THOMAS SAMSON / AFP / Getty Images

Bright red urinals designed to be an eco-friendly solution to the problem of public peeing have become a source of controversy in Paris, CNN reported Tuesday.

The urinals are located in flower boxes and use straw to eliminate odor. The urine is then used to fertilize the plants in parks and gardens.

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By Rachel Hubbard

Tuesday, the city of Paris has said it will explore the possibilities of suing the fossil fuel industry. In response to the city's recent climate damage including massive recent floods, Paris is considering taking this action following in the footsteps of New York and other U.S. cities.

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A flooded Seine River reached peak flood level early Monday morning following weeks of intense rain that has thoroughly doused Paris.

Authorities reported that the river's flooding peaked at 19.2 feet—just shy of the 20 feet reached in June of 2016, which was its highest level since 1982—and is not expected to recede until Tuesday.

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Paris smog. Damián Bakarcic / Flickr

The movement to ban the internal combustion engine is growing.

The European cities of Paris, Oxford, as well as the whole of the Netherlands, have recently announced separate proposals to phase out cars powered by fossil fuels.

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Trump will attend France's national holiday celebrations despite disagreements with the French president. PASCAL.VAN / Flickr

By Julia Conley

As the Trump administration attempts to deflect questions from the press regarding Donald Trump Jr.'s controversial meeting during last year's campaign with a Russian lawyer, the president himself has kept a relatively low profile ahead of a scheduled trip to France this week—but the French aren't expected to give him a warm welcome as hundreds of demonstrators plan to form a "No Trump Zone" in Paris, where they will march in protest of Trump's visit and his policies.

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By Mike Gaworecki

Eleven cities from around the world were celebrated recently in Mexico City at the C40 Cities Awards for their commitment to innovation in the fight against climate change.

The eleven-year-old C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group brings together officials from 85 of the world's great cities that collectively represent one quarter of the global economy. The group's focus is spurring urban initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the health, well-being and economic opportunity of the more 650 million people who call those 85 cities home.

Sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Chinese green-tech developer BYD, the C40 Cities Awards recognized the "best and boldest" work being done by mayors to fight climate change and protect their constituents from climate risks.

"The winning projects show that great progress is being made on every continent, and they serve as an inspiration to other cities," C40 President of the Board and U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement. "They also show how cities can help the world meet the ambitious goals set a year ago in Paris."

A panel of former mayors and climate experts selected the ten cities that they felt had adopted the most ambitious and effective urban sustainability programs in the world—and C40 partnered with the Associated Press to capture images of each winning city's projects, allowing you a sneak peek whether you live near one of them or not.

"Today, we celebrate some of the projects that are key to delivering on the world's climate ambition and will help put us on a path to a carbon-safe future," Chuanfu Wang, chairman and president of BYD Co. Ltd, said at the awards ceremony. "We recognise the incredible human power and thoughtful consideration that goes into making these projects reality."

1. Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

The city of Addis Ababa is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Transportation Category. The Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project has improved the city's public transport system and created more than 6,000 jobs. The cumulative emission reduction potential of the LRT system is forecasted at 1.8 million tCO2e by 2030.

A lady holding her baby wrapped in a white shawl is transported on an Addis Ababa LRT. Mulugeta Ayene / AP Images for C40

An Addis Ababa Light Rail Tram passes through Ethiopia's largest business district Merakto. Mulugeta Ayene / AP Images for C40

Pedestrians look out over commercial and residential buildings on the city skyline. Nearby an Addis Ababa light rail tram passes by.Mulugeta Ayene / AP Images for C40

For the third day in a row, air pollution blanketed Paris, which authorities called the worst bout for at least 10 years. The city imposed driving restrictions and made public transit free.

Unusually calm air failed to disperse vehicle emissions and particulates from wood fires, creating conditions that have veiled the Eiffel Tower in a gray haze.

Paris has instituted a system based on alternating odd or even license plate numbers to ban certain vehicles from city streets, effectively cutting traffic in half each day. This is just the fourth time in 20 years that Paris has taken this step, and the first time it has been in place for consecutive days.

"Cars are poisoning the air," Paris city hall transport official Herve Levife told Reuters. "We need to take preventive measures."

"We want these bans to automatically take effect when the pollution exceeds a certain level, not have to negotiate them with the government each time," Levife added.

More than 1,700 drivers were issued tickets for violating the ban on Tuesday, which carries a fine of 35 Euros, or about $37.42. Hybrid and battery electric vehicles, as well as those carrying three or more passengers, are exempt.

All public transit was made free, putting a strain on commuter systems as crowds piled onto trains and buses. The city's bike-share system was also free to use.

Along with Paris, the French cities of Lyons and Villeurbanne were expected to impose similar measures.

Air quality index readings reached or exceeded 150 on Thursday, considered a "critical" level.Air Pollution in Paris: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map

Readings of particulate matter exceeded 80 micrograms per cubic meter. The European Union has set a maximum daily average of 50. Particulate matter, due to its small size, can be inhaled deeply into lungs. High exposure can cause asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, birth defects and premature death.

Beginning July 1, Paris banned all cars 20 years or older. Longer-term, Paris and three other cities—Athens, Madrid and Mexico City—will ban diesel engines by 2025 as announced earlier this week. Diesels area major emitter of particulate matter pollution.

In March 2015, the air quality index in Paris briefly made it the worst polluted city in the world.

By the year 2020, the City of Paris wants to add 100 hectares of vertical gardens and roofs, with a third dedicated to urban agriculture. Photo credit: The Vertical Gardens by Patric Blanc / Flickr

Earlier this summer, Paris quietly passed a new law encouraging residents to help green the City of Light by planting their own urban gardens.

Although the measure was adopted on July 1, the news has only recently made headlines in France and on U.S. sites such as Inhabitat and Condé Nast Traveler.

The initiative, "permis de végétaliser" (or "license to vegetate"), is part of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo's 2020 target of adding 100 hectares (247 acres) of vegetation on the city's walls and roofs, with a third dedicated to urban agriculture.

To encourage citizens to become "gardeners of the Parisian public space," any resident can now apply for a renewable three-year permit to start their own urban garden project. Participants can green the capital in various ways, from planting fruit trees to creating living walls to a rooftop garden. Upon request, the city will also provide a planting kit that includes topsoil and seeds.

Gardeners can get as creative as they want with their greenery, but they are instructed to maintain their installations sustainably and to keep the city's aesthetics in mind. They are not allowed to use pesticides and can plant only local species. Also, as Condé Nast Traveler noted, "the city has also expressed the need for 'local honey plants,' presumably to help grow the world's diminishing bee population."

The city of Paris says that its new urban gardening program is designed to encourage biodiversity, meet the need for green spaces, mitigate "heat island" effect and climate change, improve air quality and improve the thermal and acoustic comfort of buildings.

Penelope Komitès, who is in charge of green spaces, nature and biodiversity for the city of Paris, said the initiative allows Parisians to help beautify the city while improving their own quality of life at the same time.

The urban garden initiative is only one part of Hidalgo's ambitious plans of greening the French capital. The greening program also involves the creation of 30 hectares (74 acres) of public gardens, the planting of 20,000 new trees, 200 revegetation projects and the development of educational farms, orchards and vegetable gardens in schools.

In its continued efforts to fight pollution, the first Sunday of every month is a car-free day in Paris. In March, French Parliament passed a new law mandating that all new buildings constructed in commercial zones must be partially covered by plants or solar panels. France also recently banned plastic plates and cutlery, making it the first country in the world to take this step.

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