Last Tango in Paris

couple dancing last tango

What happens in Paris

In my experience, it seems people are really indifferent to Paris. It’s either up there amongst their favourite cities in the world or a place they prefer not to return to and claim to dislike. I have one friend who falls into both camps. They had such a wonderful weekend there once years ago, that they have refused to return since, for fear of spoiling the memories!

When your investment research work and personal interests take you down the Rue de Sustainabilite, then you also of course come across Paris in a different form. The Paris Agreement signed at COP21 in 2015 was where so many of the current climate policies and programmes of government, business, and finance began. Some of the investment funds that we access for clients specifically aim to be “Paris-aligned” – i.e., the underlying companies they invest in have low carbon emissions or are on a minimum emissions reduction pathway.

However, my reason for posting about Paris today is not due to the historic climate conference or a memory of a boat trip down the Seine. The city caught my attention this week due to a recently issued report on its adaptability to climate change. The report warns that rising global temperatures could see Paris regularly experience 50 °C days. This burning issue is exacerbated by the city’s iconic architecture – wide boulevards and zinc-topped roofs act as a ‘heat sink’ in extreme weather.

The city’s current temperature record – of 42.6C in the shade – was set in 2019. But this high point could jump eight degrees by 2050 according to climatologist Robert Vautard. Paris will see an average of 34 heatwave days per year in 2030, the report suggests. Paris nights will also be steamy – Last Tango in Paris anyone? By 2030, it is forecast that Parisians will endure 35 ‘tropical nights’ – nights when the temperature stays above 20 degrees – annually, up from five in 2008.

Temperatures at this level aren’t just inconvenient and uncomfortable they can sadly be fatal, disrupting the body’s internal regulation systems. In 2019, the country recorded 10,000 excess heatwave deaths. These temperatures would also wreak havoc on city infrastructure. The electricity grid would suffer from power outages and transport systems would be disrupted due to melting road and rail surfaces.

Particularly in Paris, its famous apartments – topped with zinc roofs – may become uninhabitable. This is because zinc is a highly conductive metal that absorbs heat.

The report urges city planners to take urgent steps to prevent a “nightmare scenario”. Possible steps include:

  • investing in more green space, including growing trees and shrubs on buildings
  • replacing or adapting the zinc roofs
  • avoiding “greenhouse style” glass constructions
  • changing working hours to avoid the hottest part of the day.

Paris is a city famous and unique in many ways but its struggles to adapt to climate change will be all too common for cities in many parts of the world. We dearly hope that town planners, local authorities and governments have the foresight and the resources to adapt sufficiently.


Whilst much of this is outside our direct control, there are things you can do with your investment choices to encourage positive sustainability change, and at the very least exclude investments contributing to the problem.

At Somerset Wealth, we focus on making sure that your wealth is adaptable and sustainable – through rising temperatures and changing environments. Just like the city leaders in Paris, we look at risks that lie ahead and the action required to shelter investors from their effects.


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Photo by Preillumination SeTh on Unsplash

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