Apr 19, 2019
Parts of a major business district just outside of Paris city limits were "paralyzed" Friday when more than 2,000 climate campaigners staged what organizers described as one of France's largest ever acts of civil disobedience.
"We want to show that in reality, it is here that France's climate policy is decided, in the offices of the big bosses."
--Clement Senechal, Greenpeace France
Peaceful demonstrators descended on La Defense to protest government complicity and companies fueling the global climate crisis.
Carrying signs that condemned Emmanuel Macron as "president of polluters," the protesters blocked access to the buildings of three major businesses and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition.
The direct action was organized by Action Non-Violente (ANV) COP21 and the French chapters of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, but members of at least 14 climate groups reportedly joined the mass mobilization.
\u201c[ACTION] One of the biggest actions of civil disobedience ever organized in France just started. More than 2000 citizens are blocking the business district of #LaD\u00e9fense to denounce the toxic alliance of @EmmanuelMacron and the french governement with big polluting companies.\u201d— Greenpeace France (@Greenpeace France) 1555656872
"Through this action of extraordinary civil disobedience, the French climate movement denounces the toxic alliance that Emmanuel Macron and his government maintain with the large companies whose activity accelerates climate change, while radical and immediate action is needed to limit global warming to +1.5degC by the end of the century," organizers said in a statement in French, referencing a key target of the Paris climate accord.
The demonstration in France came as the climate activism group Extinction Rebellion is spearheading an International Rebellion Week featuring similar civil disobedience in London. The group's French arm supported the action Friday:
\u201cFollow this historic moment of #CivilDisobedience in Paris live \u25b6\ufe0f https://t.co/LKGnvUc8Ea @AnvCop21 @greenpeacefr @amisdelaterre #ExtinctionRebelion\u201d— Extinction Rebellion France \ud83d\udc1d\ud83c\udf3a (@Extinction Rebellion France \ud83d\udc1d\ud83c\udf3a) 1555660398
The three companies campaigners targeted were fossil fuel giant Total, a major producer of planet-warming emissions; investment bank Societe Generale, which pours billions of dollars into dirty energy projects each year; and Electricite de France (EDF), the state-run electric utility that, according to protest organizers, produces only about 10 percent of renewable energy compared with more than 70 percent of nuclear energy.
\u201c#LaD\u00e9fenseBloqu\u00e9e: Cela fait plus de 7\u20e3 HEURES que des centaines de citoyen.nes bloquent les si\u00e8ges de @Total, @EDFofficiel et @SocieteGenerale pour d\u00e9noncer l'alliance toxique entre ces multinationales et le @gouvernementFR !\nBravo pour leur courage et d\u00e9termination \ud83d\udc4f\ud83d\ude0d\u201d— ANV-COP21 (@ANV-COP21) 1555683296
\u201c#LaD\u00e9fenseBloqu\u00e9e : l'\u00e9vacuation est en cours du c\u00f4t\u00e9 de @EDFofficiel mais le blocage continue. Soutien et admiration pour les activistes qui ont r\u00e9sist\u00e9 pr\u00e8s de 8h pour bloquer la tour de la multinationale radioactive et d\u00e9noncer son r\u00f4le dans la #R\u00e9publiqueDesPollueurs.\u201d— Greenpeace France (@Greenpeace France) 1555682936
"Instead of regulating the activities of these polluting multinationals, Emmanuel Macron is rolling out the red carpet!" said Cecile Marchand of Friends of the Earth France.
Marchand pointed out that last year, Macron's government gave Total the green light to import palm oil, despite the European Parliament's decision to ban such imports by 2021. She also slammed government investment in nuclear power and failures to block big banks from funding dirty energy development.
The French president, Marchand said, "firmly defends banks like Societe Generale against any attempt to regulate and refuses to supervise them to put an end to their investments in fossil fuels."
\u201cEt pendant ce temps... le centre n\u00e9vralgique de @Total toujours paralys\u00e9 : les citoyen\u00b7ne\u00b7s d\u00e9noncent notamment l'autorisation donn\u00e9e par @EmmanuelMacron \u00e0 la reconversion de la raffinerie de la M\u00e8de, faisant bondir les importations fran\u00e7aises d'huile de palme.\n\n#LaD\u00e9fenseBloqu\u00e9e\u201d— Les Amis de la Terre FR (@Les Amis de la Terre FR) 1555670757
"By displaying Emmanuel Macron at La Defense, and blocking the activity of several strategic locations in this business district," said Greenpeace France climate campaign manager Clement Senechal, "we want to show that in reality, it is here that France's climate policy is decided, in the offices of the big bosses."
The blockades in France came as students across the globe skipped classes and took to the streets as part of the weekly #FridaysForFuture school strikes--inspired by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg's solitary protests launched last year to demand bolder efforts from global policymakers to stave off climate catastrophe.
\u201cWhile students are on strike for climate #FridaysForFuture, over 2 000 french citizens are blocking Paris' business district to denounce the toxic alliances between the french President and the polluting companies.\n\n#RebellionWeek #LaDefenseBloqu\u00e9e #RepubliqueDesPollueurs\u201d— Les Amis de la Terre FR (@Les Amis de la Terre FR) 1555672773
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