Paris developed district heating in 1927 to overcome air quality and fuel delivery issues. Today, large portions of the city are connected to district heating, including 50% of social housing, all hospitals and 50% of public buildings, delivering the heat-demand equivalent of 500,000 households. In early 1990s, Paris also developed the first district cooling network in Europe (Climespace), which uses from the Seine River and other sources for cooling and requires 50% less primary energy than traditional systems. At the same time, district energy is part of Paris’ core strategy to help achieve the 75% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 defined in the Climate and Energy Action Plan (2012)xxv. To guide its district energy development and modernization, Paris set clear targets for district energy systems, providing longer-term vision and security for local planners, investors, developers and consumers.


Paris’ district energy targets are articulated in its updated Climate and Energy Action Plan (2012). The district heating network should use 60% renewable or recovered energy by 2020, sourced primarily from local energies (geothermal, solar thermal, solar PV, waste-to- energy and heat recovery from industry, drains, metro, etc.), with potential evaluated at 367 GWh in 2020. Additional local energy systems should also be built in new development districts, mainly by creating hot water loops fed by geothermal energy. Paris plans to draft a comprehensive heating master plan by 2022, in particular exploring options for connecting smaller district energy networks and allow for further integration of renewables. Already today, 50% of Paris is heated by three waste-to-energy plants, which alone avoid the emission of 800,000 tons of CO2 annually. The number of heat recovery installations should increase by 1,500 (37.3 GWh) by 2020.

Reasons for success

The drivers for Paris’ target setting include the ambitious national and local climate change targets; strong regulatory experience that provides confidence in the targets and the local government’s commitment to achieve them; and the rich endowments of local natural renewable resources, such as geothermal, which can be developed cost-effectively.

When/why a city might apply an approach like this

Cities without ambitious national targets can define local targets to help streamline district energy into urban planning and create a more stable policy environment to promote investor confidence. In cities with limited recent district energy experience, these targets can be particularly useful in focusing political attention and generating the necessary momentum for district energy development and conversion. 

C40 Good Practice Guides

C40's Good Practice Guides offer mayors and urban policymakers roadmaps for tackling climate change, reducing climate risk and encouraging sustainable urban development. With 100 case studies taken from cities of every size, geography and stage of development around the world, the Good Practice Guides provide tangible examples of climate solutions that other cities can learn from. 

The District Energy Good Practice Guide is available for download here.  The full collection of C40 Good Practice Guides is available for download here.  

All references can be found in the full guide.

  • Environmental
Key Impact
Target set to use 60% renewable or recovered energy by 2020
Emissions Reduction
800,000 tCO2e/year
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