Paris Drives Impact By Stopping Traffic

As the demand for transparency in corporate responsibility efforts increases, the pressure is on for organizations to find inspiring ways to reach consumers. More and more, companies are taking to bold call-outs to raise awareness of sustainability issues—from Patagonia’s wildly successful, unconventional “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign to World Wildlife Fund’s visually impactful “Earth Hour” movement. Now one major city is hitting the road with an unprecedented plan to take a stand against the effects of pollution.

On September 27, 2015, Paris will go car-free for the first time in the city’s history to raise consciousness of its pollution problem and encourage sustainable transportation. City officials worked with the environmental nonprofit Paris Sans Voiture to announce “A Day Without Car,” which will turn the French capital into a “pedestrian and bicycle paradise.” Locals, who have felt the effects of the city’s worsening pollution problem, will enjoy a city free from traffic jams and car exhaust for the day. As Mayor Anne Hidalgo said, “Paris will be transformed for a day. This is an opportunity for Parisians and tourists to enjoy the city without noise, pollution and therefore, without stress.” The day is just one of the city’s innovative approaches to addressing climate change, which includes passing bike-friendly laws and offering to pay locals to bike to work. In March, officials introduced emergency measures after a day where pollution peaked, leaving the city obscured by a cloud of smog. Officials hope this one-day ban will increase urgency to act against climate change and adopt more sustainable behaviors. The announcement comes in advance of COP 21, the United Nations’ climate change conference taking place in Paris later this year.

The "A Day Without Car” campaign not only stops traffic, it calls attention to the growing concern over air pollution. Paris is now one of several cities around the world using this innovative approach to improve the quality of life for its residents, from San Francisco’s "Sunday Streets” to Bogota’s "Ciclovia.” And with 64 percent of global consumers saying they only pay attention to CSR efforts if an organization is going above and beyond what other companies are doing, this drastic measure to shut down roads is an example of how to cut through the clutter with bold, actionable impact.

- Catalina Quintana, Account Executive, CSR Strategy

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