Grenoble, European Green Capital

20 January 2022

Grenoble was saved on Saturday from the menaces of the evil Doctor Azote. His love of factory smoke and waste meant that, all over the city, citizens stepped up to face the climate challenge head on.

This was the scenario for a city-wide ‘escape game’ (modelled on the famous escape room style), which formed part of the activities last weekend as Grenoble officially kicked off its reign as European Green Capital 2022.

Teams of concerned citizens were invited to complete a circuit of the city, stopping off at sites of ecological interest to face challenges such as learning what the city is doing to produce seasonal fruits and vegetables, or how it plans to ethically fight the overpopulation of pigeons. Many also got to find out about the participatory garden project l’Happy Hoche, which has already been running for four years.

Nonetheless, many changes lie ahead for the good people of Grenoble, in areas as diverse as tackling inequality, improving mobility and bringing back greater biodiversity.

“To face climate change, it is important to remember that there are no foregone conclusions,” said Christophe Ferrari, President of Grenoble-Alpes Metropole. “This is why we are working with the goal of reconciling ecological transition with social justice, and the firm belief that real progress must be shared,” he added.

With this in mind, the city has set a series of challenges around 12 themes for individuals, business and public institutions to start doing more for the ecological transition. Concerned about how much waste we collectively produce? Then why not make 2022 the year when you say, “I will not buy any plastic water bottles”.

Opening ceremony

“In 2050, our territory will experience several weeks of heatwave in the summer and no snow in the winter,” warned Eric Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble, at the opening ceremony, where he also shared that the Alpine metropolis is currently losing between 4-7 days of snow each year.

European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius chose to praise the “pioneering actions” the city has made for the  ecological transition, and noted that the award, while an “acknowledgement of your past,” is also “a recognition of your city’s commitment to a future that is more ambitious still.”

Indeed, Grenoble, which was the first French local authority to adopt a climate plan, has a host of ambitions this year. This includes a target to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 75% by 2026 compared to 2017 levels when the first steps to create a low emission zone were taken, helping residents to renovate their homes, and many events, such as the Eurocities Environment Forum, which will take place from 6-8 April.

Green innovations

Within the framework of the ‘waste’ challenge set by the city lies an invitation to reuse and repair more items. To encourage this behaviour the city used the occasion to highlight its map of local reuse solutions, which shares information and locations for repair cafés, recycling centres, and bike workshops, among other stalwarts of the local circular economy.

This is also the mission of la Fabricanova, a new local partnership that brings together several companies and associations specialised in the collection, repair and reuse of textiles, household appliances, furniture, and other items. The Fabricanova is a site where residents will be able to deposit a diverse array of objects, which will be sorted and then offered to the partnering organisations to be reused or dismantled.

Find out more about the European Green Capital 2022.


Alex Godson Eurocities Writer