Green news France: hikers survey Mont Blanc, less CO2 cruise ships

And tobacconists warn smokers of wildfire risks - we look at current environmental initiatives

Walkers can help scientists gather information on the effects of climate change on the flora and fauna of Mont Blanc
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Scientists at the Mont Blanc Observatory, in Chamonix (Haute-Savoie) are asking walkers to provide invaluable information for their analysis of the effects of climate change on the flora and fauna of Europe’s highest massif.

Read more: Climate change - Snow disappearing from Alps, France included

Hikers can report on tadpoles and flowers

People keen to participate can stop at two refuges – the Plan de l’Aiguille in Chamonix and the Refuge des Prés in Contamines-Montjoie – in order to, respectively, observe the evolution of tadpoles in a pond and the flowering of certain species of plants.

“It allows us to have a follow-up all summer long in places where we could not be every day,” Anaïs Ramet, head of the participatory science mission at the Mont Blanc Observatory, told francetvinfo.

The scientists are seeing that species are adapting to the higher temperatures, resulting in an upward migration of species to find the same climatic conditions.

Meanwhile, via the Phénoclim programme, the general public is also invited to observe nature, from the Pyrenees to the Alps through the Massif Central.

The process of adding comments is simple and fast – just click on “Partager une observation”, then create an account and leave your notes on what you have seen in your area, whether you live there or have visited.

Read more: Global warming: popular Pyrenees mountain glacier disappears entirely

Cruise ships create less CO2

The end to Russian gas imports to France means that manufacturers of cruise ships (croisières in French) are looking at other resources, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is less polluting.

Read more: France should ‘no longer need Russian gas within three to four years’

While the ships, built in the port of Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique) cost €10million more to build, the makers MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) say it is a price they are willing to pay.

“With LNG, the immediate reduction is 25% less CO2, so we agree to pay this additional price to be able to go in the right direction for the planet,” a company statement said.

However, opponents say while LNG use reduces fine particle pollutants, it causes methane leaks, which they deem to be even more polluting.

“It is a climate bomb”, said Delphine Gozillon, member of the NGO Transport and Environment.

“When we combine these two types of emissions, we end up with a climate balance that is much heavier”.

Smokers warned of fire risks

The federation of tobacconists (known as buralistes) in Gironde has teamed up with the local fire service to launch an operation to make smokers aware of the risks linked to forest fires.

Read more: Wildfires in France: Why is it so difficult to get them under control?

Around 5,000 biodegradable pocket ashtrays have been delivered to 26 tobacco shops (tabacs) in the Basin of Arcachon and Lacanau.

“The vegetation is conducive to fires. The Gironde is the leading department in terms of fire starts, with more than 500 starts per year,” departmental fire chief David Brunner told France Bleu.

“About four out of five forest fires are of human origin,” he added.

Read more: Gironde fire update: 10,000 people evacuated, blaze still spreading

Solar panels aesthetically pleasing

A first for the Ardèche – the new salle des fêtes in Saint-Etienne-de-Valoux is being built with solar panels on the roof.

However, they are not standard tuiles photovoltaïques, which local leaders deemed aesthetically inappropriate to the overall look of the village.

Read more: Coloured solar panels can offer solution for protected areas in France

Instead, they are black, flat and square to look more like traditional slate – and at €350 per m² they are almost twice as expensive.

“Everyone must contribute to the ecological transition. And it’s our role as local authorities to get involved, to show what we can do,” said the mayoress Marie-Christine Soulhiard.

In a stroke of luck, a well was discovered nearby so the salle will be self-sufficient for the watering of flowerbeds.

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