A Path for Climate Change, Beyond Paris – New York Times

PARIS – The blue, white and red colors of the French flag that covered the Eiffel Tower after the terrorist attacks of Nov. 13 in Paris are gone. Instead, the tower has gone green.

Green as in trees — stylized, virtual ones, which are being projected on the landmark in honor of the United Nations conference on climate change taking place here over the next two weeks.

The project, the work of the artist Naziha Mestaoui, is called 1 Heart 1 Tree. It allows participants to add a tree to the installation through the project’s website or a mobile app, by buying a virtual tree. That purchase also supports the planting of a real tree as part of one of the reforestation programs aligned with the project, including in Brazil, Peru, Senegal, Kenya, France, India and Australia.

The app is free and the projection of a virtual tree and planting of a real one costs 10 euros, or about $10.50.

Once a tree is ordered and paid for, it “grows” on the Eiffel Tower for a few seconds, and the buyer is notified through a message of the date and time of its appearance. A screenshot of the stylized tree, with the buyer’s name, is also sent.

A livestream of the appearing and fading trees, which run from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Paris time, from now until Friday, can be found on the website of the installation.

The Eiffel Tower remains the emotional heart of Paris, reflecting both good and bad times in the city. In the last two weeks, it was dark, and then lighted in red, white and blue to reflect the French flag, as the city and country mourned the loss of 130 lives in the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks.

Ms. Mestaoui, a 40-year-old Belgian-Tunisian artist, said she created her virtual forest as a way to involve people in the solution for climate change.

“When we plant a tree, we capture carbon, we put water back in the water table, and we help biodiversity regenerate,” she said in an interview earlier in November. She said she works with local programs, and cited the “trees of peace” program in Kenya created by the Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai as inspirational.

The ceremony to kick off the project was attended on Sunday by the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon; Raoni Metuktire, the chief of a Brazilian indigenous group and a vocal advocate for the preservation of the Amazon forest; the French actress Marion Cotillard who is the ambassador for the project, and Nicolas Hulot, an environmental activist and climate adviser for the French presidency.

Mr. Hulot thanked Ms. Mestaoui for her project, particularly at a time when Paris is still reeling from the recent violence.

“Thank you for reminding us that in a forest, we hear the tree that falls down, but not the thousands of other trees that grow,” Mr. Hulot said. “Like in a city, where we hear the 10 idiots who kill, but not the millions who love themselves.”


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