In the streets at the Paris climate protests

COP21 Bikes

Bike bloc at the COP 21 protests in Paris November 28.

Photos by Mona Caron.

In the streets at the Paris climate protests

Mona Caron is an artist and activist based in San Francisco. She flew to Paris to protest at the UN's 21st Climate Summit in the city.

Paris officials have stamped down on protests; the city, shaken after the devastating attacks earlier this month. But, as Mona documents through photos she shared to Facebook, the COP21 protests are fundamental to raising concerns that might otherwise be neglected at the conference of global leaders.

Naomi Klein said in an article in the Guardian, that it is telling whose security is prioritized over others'. Klein wrote:

"The Hollande government has made a series of decisions that reflect a very particular set of values and priorities about who and what will get the full security protection of the state. Yes to world leaders, football matches and Christmas markets; no to climate marches and protests pointing out that the negotiations, with the current level of emission targets, endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions if not billions of people."


The human chain along the intended march route in Paris in advance of the COP 21 summit. Photo by Mona Caron.

The demonstrators were unable to march as they had planned to do through Paris. Instead, they formed a human chain of over 10,000 people on the sidewalks along the intended march route. "They may be doing us a favour, albeit a painful and slightly dangerous one, forcing us away from predictable political rituals, and into the kind of creativity that paradoxically seems to emerge stronger under totalitarian duress," Caron posted on Facebook on Saturday.

There has been no shortage of means to creatively voice dissent without breaking the security measures, alongside the human chain, protestors have also been leaving shoes – over 20,000 pairs including one belonging to Pope Francis – at the Place de la République.


Posters from along the human chain in Paris. Photo by Mona Caron.

"The people facing the worst impacts of climate change have virtually no voice in western debates about whether to do anything serious to prevent catastrophic global warming," Naomi Klein said in the Guardian: "That’s why Pacific islanders and Inuit hunters and low-income people of colour from places like New Orleans travel for thousands of miles to attend."
The Indigenous Environmental Network's video documents a healing ceremony that took place in front of the Bataclan Theatre on Sunday, November 29 in Paris. They were standing in solidarity with victims of both the terror attacks and of climate change.

Some protestors plan to get to the conferences without burning carbon: on their bicycles. Over five days, hundreds of concerned global citizens will be biking from London to Paris to add their presence to the protests. In January, the Bike for a Future endeavour left from Vietnam on a nine-month journey through 11 countries on their bicycles to join the protest in France.


Part of the human chain in Paris. Mona said on Facebook: "We lined Blvd. Voltaire from St.Ambroise all the way to Nation, and, sorry, authorities, there were just too many people to stay in neat single files." Photo by Mona Caron

Cyclists present in the streets of Paris, as they were earlier this year for the largest car-free day, remind us that the bicycle can be a conductor of environmental change and rethinking our dependancies which have already had a devastating effect on the environment.

It is an exciting time in Canada with the change in leadership. Trudeau gave his opening address at the summit by declaring that "Canada is back, my friends," and adding we are ready to regain our place as leaders in environmental stewardship.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

The Routes Film: Through Kitigan Zibi on bicycle

Paris Sans Voiture: A glimpse at a car-free future

Heels on Wheels: Pam Palmater

Post-Election Bike Spotting at Harbord and St. George


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