Building Smart Zero-Net Carbon Cities: Paris Climate Action Plan and the Language of Cause & Effect

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

In episode 11 of Think Big, I'm taking you to the future to find out what is in store for the city of Paris in 2050.

Today is an opportunity for you to listen to me dive deep into a global environmental issue that will inevitably impact the future of urban design, architecture and planning for the next 30 years. Given that I live in France I thought it would be a good example to put some context into understanding some of the strategies cities will implement going Carbon Neutral.

It is also the perfect opportunity for you to learn and explore new vocabulary, discuss language for cause and effect/consequence as well as take a closer look at Zero and First Conditional in a context you understand.

We discuss:

✨ The Paris Agreement and what that means

✨ The Paris Climate Action Plan

✨ How Buildings and the city of Paris will change

✨ Language of cause and effect

Books & Resources

💻 Paris Climate Action Plan

✨ Follow me on Instagram:

✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull

✨ Extended Show Notes and Full Transcript:

Ready to take action to speak up and share your voice?

Ready to start making a BIG impact on your English & building the architecture career you want?

You know it's time to make a change and you've got to start somewhere. In the evaluation and action plan, you will get my best tips so you stop the self-doubt and start taking action now. Take me to the action plan

Table of Contents Books and Resources


Transcript Images of Expressions


equipped (adjective) - describes something that contains things that are necessary

Haussmannian buildings - Haussmann architecture features large, elegant buildings with stone facades and wrought iron details. The quintessential Parisian-style building.

state of art (adjective) belonging or relating to the most recent stage of technological development

entity -

retrofit - (verb) add (a component or accessory) to something that did not have it when it was manufactured

reimagine - change something to be done differently

emission targets -

sequester carbon - (verb) absorb atmospheric carbon

in accordance with - to conform with something or follow rules/regulations

impervious surfaces - surfaces like concrete or asphalt that don't allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground

percolate - move through

reclaim - retrieve or recover something previously lost

mobility - the ability to move or be moved freely and easily

counterparts - a person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as another person or thing in a different place or situation.


look good on paper - it looks like a good concept but the person might be expressing doubts about it being realistic or feasible

keep a close eye on something - keep following the progress of something

point you in the direct of (something) - let you know where you can find something

Phrasal verbs

step up (something) - increase the amount of something

go into - explain in more detail

look to (something) - see something as a role model or example

point out - make note of something



Quick Find Snippets - Take me straight to these sections

The possible future

Other podcast resources

What is the Paris Agreement

Paris Climate Action Plan 2050

Key statistics and crucial trends driving carbon neutral

Greenspaces biodiversity and more space for pedestrians and cyclists


Language to look out for from Today's Episode


Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:00

You're listening to Think Big Episode 10

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:13

Hello Big Thinkers and welcome to episode eleven of Think Big English for architects. I'm your host Tara Cull, landscape architect, English teacher and communication coach for ArchiEnglish. I coach people in the built design profession who speak English as a second language to help them build outstanding communication skills and feel more confident to speak up. You can learn more about my coaching programmes and upcoming courses, at

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:44

If this is your first time listening to the podcast, the podcast will be for you if you are an intermediate to advanced language learner working in the built design profession or as a student and you speak English as a second language and you want to improve your listening skills and get some tips about the language of architecture (which by the way isn't just about learning the names of buildings and spaces - it's also about how you say it and why it's important. For example, how to be persuasive, how to sell your ideas!

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 01:20

On the podcast we also as well as learning and motivation, each fortnight I release one episode around different topics. Sometimes the episodes are interviews with amazing guests from the industry or sometimes it's me discussing topics that my audience are interested in or discussing what want to build vocabulary around. In my work as a landscape architect, I'm always thinking about how the language I'm using could be taught in a way that could help my clients and my audience much better when they are trying to communicate their ideas. I also try to link some of the important language points that you might be learning as a learner to certain aspects of your job or what you need to talk about as a student, as an architect, landscape architect. I'm a big fan of learning languages and consolidating your learning in an enjoyable way so it means listening to it in a context you need and is relevant to you. As a language learner myself (I'm learning French and I just started learning Portuguese) I really (try to) understand the ups and the downs so for me the podcast is a space for you to be able to listen, reflect and also to practice so that you feel more confident when you're learning the language or when you're trying to consolidate certain things for certain aspects of your life.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 02:52

As always, you'll find the transcript. vocabulary and episode show notes at and then in this episode's I have highlighted in green the language of cause and effect and in purple the key vocabulary for the episode. So grab a coffee and join me for the next little while as we talk about the future of Paris.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 03:15

Now, there is no doubt that climate change is something that we as-built design professionals have in the forefront of our minds. In 2015 196 Parties made a very significant agreement at COP 21 21st Conference of the Parties (or “COP”) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Wow, it's a bit of a mouthful! And what they did, they agreed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees celsius, but preferably what they'd like to do is limit that increases to only1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Since I live in France, (in the south of France) and Paris has to be one of my favourite cities, I thought what better way to discuss what cities are doing to respond to the agreement by discussing the Future of Paris by looking at the Plan for Paris 2050. This weekend is also the festival for gardens and urban agriculture in Paris where urban agriculture, biodiversity and participation in urban agriculture and gardens will be celebrated with many events.

I'm going to go into the context and what will influence future development in Paris and I'll point you in the direction of a few resources and proposals that may have a significant impact on the future development of Paris. But also thinking about what the world will be doing in the next 30 years. In other words, we're going to look at the cause or the influence and the consequence. I think it's important to know more about global politics and concerns so that you have a better idea as a built design professional understanding what your responsibility is to sustainability to your work to sharing your ideas with the rest of the world.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 05:12

This episode will be great for you to want to learn more about the future of Paris but also if you want to hear more about how the language of consequences and cause and effect can be used. I've chosen this because it's something I realise (in conversations with a lot of my clients) we need to do a lot especially when we explain our decisions to clients and colleagues within the profession particularly if those decisions are being influenced by bigger picture ideas or global politics. I've spoken about this topic with several of my clients who live in France but also outside of France and the discussion has been a great critical analysis of what is happening in the world, what governments are doing, what governments are not doing and the future of the climate. At the end of the episode, I'm going to share some of these real concrete examples of language that you might use to explain consequences which you'll also hear throughout the episode when I discuss what is happening in Paris.

So let's dive straight into the Episode to learn more.

The possible future of Paris

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 06:25

The year is 2050 and it's the first time you've visited Paris since 2015. You are standing on Rue de Rivoli outside the Parisian Townhall, admiring the Paris skyline. While the Haussmannian buildings are familiar to you, something less familiar adorns the skyline. Smart buildings, covered in green vegetation and equipped with state of art technology. Due to our growing interest in the impact of climate change the city has become a cycling-friendly city where a park is never more than a 15-minute stroll away.

You walk towards the Arc Triomphe along the Champs-Élysées through parks and along streets filled with pedestrians and cyclists under the thick tree canopy. It's a very different Paris from the one that you remember.

And I invite you to have a look at the photo that I have put into the shownotes for today's episode. It's the very green, vegetated vision for Paris. So this will help you (when you have a look at this image) it will help you visualise some of the things that I'm talking about in this episode.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 07:33

As a result of The City of Paris embracing this ambitious objective to be carbon-neutral Paris in 2050 it has been completely transformed from the city we see today into a carbon-neutral Smart City. Carbon neutral or Net Zero Carbon - is a term that we use to describe the state of an entity (such as a company, service, product or even in this case a city), where the carbon emissions caused by them have been balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world or by planting trees to sequester the carbon The aim is to strike a balance between our ecosystem’s natural capacity to absorb greenhouse gas emissions and also the irreducible emissions generated by human activities between now and

2050. This can be achieved through interventions such as tree planting, green spaces and vegetated buildings to sequester the carbon or absorb the carbon and clean the air, conversion of energy sources from fossil fuel reliance to renewable sources, retrofitting old buildings integrate several energy-production techniques and as we see in Vincent Callebaut's vision building high-rise buildings with positive energy outputs. It's not just about the implementation of the physical structures, it's also about encouraging inhabitants to adopt eco-friendly standards of living in their daily lives. So this might be making changes from their daily lives, making changes to their diets, making changes to their routine, being more engaged with things in the city by being engaged with things like urban agriculture.

Other resources

Now some other resources that you might find interesting if this is a topic that interests you. If you're an urbanist fighting climate change, which I hope you are, then you'll enjoy The Green Urbanist Podcast which is hosted by Ross O'Ceallaigh. He is Irish and he is living in the UK and his show explores how architects, planners, policymakers and designers can make cities more sustainable, healthy and happy. I think you'll especially enjoy the most recent episode titled Adapting Buildings to a New Climate Era and Retrofitting for Net Zero Carbon. So in this episode he talks about all the changes that we need to make to current buildings in order to be ready for the climate crisis. Since I'm only going to touch on a small aspect of the global climate crisis in today's episode, then it's a great place to start if you enjoy listening to podcasts.

What is the Paris Agreement

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 10:35

The Paris Agreement often referred to as the Paris Accords or the Paris Climate Accords, is an international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015. It covers things like climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. So when I say mitigation, it's, we are trying to reduce the effects of climate change. Now the Agreement was negotiated by 196 parties at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference near Paris, in France.

Under the Agreement, each nation is required to set, to plan, and to regularly report on its contributions. The interesting thing is, is there is no obligation for a country to establish specific emission targets under the Agreement, but each target should exceed previous objectives.

Something that you might find interesting is to see what your government is doing in response to the Paris Accords or The Paris Agreement to see if they really are taking action that they should be or if you disagree with what they are doing.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 11:48