Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

Red lines for climate activists at Paris summit

  • Danish MEP Margrete Auken, media, and passers by at one Paris protest (Photo: Peter Teffer)

“Participants over here! Media, go down there!”

A female organizer of a protest at the climate change conference in Paris on Friday (11 December) had to give orders so that she could distinguish activists from journalists.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Greenpeace's 'Aurora' polar bear (Photo: Peter Teffer)

This is not always easy at the summit, due to a high concentration of media combined with long periods of inactivity outside the closed doors behind which ministers are negotiating a new climate treaty.

Thanks to a frequent lack of things to film or photograph, protests are a welcome subject – plus the symbolic images 'do well' on television. Not seldomly do non-governmental organisations (NGOs) send out press releases advertising the protests as “media opportunities”.

At Friday's protest, participants created a red line by holding red banners of a metre high and a few metres across, all the way down the main outdoor corridor between the halls of the Bourget conference centre where the talks are being held.

The red line symbolized the elements of the text which the protester say should not be compromised on.

“Justice!”, they shouted, “Equity!” and: “Finance!”

Officially, protests at the Bourget site need to be approved minimum 24 hours ahead by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

They may only be requested by organisations that have been granted so-called “observer” status, and whose members have badges to enter the so-called blue zone.

Organisations need to send the UN body, which organized the conference with the French, a filled-out form listing a detailed description of the desired “additional activities at UNFCCC sessions”.

The document, seen by this website, asks for a list of the technical equipment, the location of the protest, and which texts will be involved.

It also asks the organiser to fill out: “Item and dimension (please add photo), quantity of people/items necessary for set-up/operation, noise level”.

The organisers of the red-line protest did not follow the official path, but “informed” security two hours ahead. The same happened to a sit-in that occurred on Wednesday.

Friends of the Earth International, which organised Wednesday's protest, said “at least 500 people” participated – although this reporter could not independently verify that figure.

The sit-in was surrounded by so many people wielding camera's, that it was impossible to determine who was activist and who was journalist – or accidental passer-by.

According to activists, security has tolerated such protests.

A fully approved one was “Aurora”, Greenpeace's mock polar bear, several metres high, whose head was controlled by a man wearing a beanie sitting behind it.

At noon on Friday, the bear let loose a roaring sound. A group of around twenty people were watching it, many of them making photos with their phones or tablets.

Many people passed by without more than a glance, but several stopped for a few seconds, some of them to take a self-portrait with the polar bear in the background.

A Greenpeace activist, who said she was not allowed to speak on the record, told this website she thought the UNFCCC rules were “understandable”.

She said the bear was allowed to roar whenever Greenpeace wanted, but that displacement of the object – which she said requires around fifty people – could only occur on agreed times.

“You want to draw attention, but you also want to respect the demand for security,” she noted.

Meanwhile, many activities across Paris have been cancelled these past two weeks, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Nevertheles, several thousands of protesters are expected to show up for the weekend.

While the state of emergency is still in place, activists said that they have reached an accord with French police for several demonstrations.

On Saturday (12 December), Friends of the Earth activists will write a digital message by making photos from specified locations, thereby collectively writing a message on a map of Paris.

At 2PM, protesters will form a large human chain in the Champ de Mars in central Paris, under the Eiffel Tower. According to activists involved, police have told them the protests will be allowed.

EU and 195 countries adopt Paris climate accord

Deal cements new bottom-up approach which involves pledges by every UN state to reduce greenhouse emissions, as well as a review mechanism to jack up ambition every five years.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  2. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  3. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  4. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  5. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  6. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  7. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  8. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  2. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  3. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  4. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  5. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  6. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  7. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  8. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us