PARIS – Several thousand climate activists from all over Europe and many other countries gathered peacefully near the Arc de Triomphe on Saturday to protest the outcome of the COP 21 Climate Conference about 12 miles away.
The demonstration was an official exception to the ban on public gatherings in France after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November. Even though the delegates of the official conference center reached a historic agreement and applauded their success, street crowds clearly felt that it would take far more than the measures of the agreement to halt global climate change.
“We do not like COP 21,” said Joseph Purugganan, who came from the Philippines to participate in the demonstration with other activists in a coalition called Focus on the Global South. “The message here is that the real solution will come from People,” he said. “After 20 years of COP, look where we are.” He added that the slowdown in global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, the target set in the agreement, was not enough. In the Philippines, there have been record typhoons, and fishermen from Southeast Asia are expelled from their homes by increasing the oceans, he said.
Stuart Basden, 33, from Toronto, seemed even more disappointed. “We knew it would be a failure,” he said. “They just decided in what decade we’re going to put out.”
Unlike a previous protest at the conference, a banned in the Place de la République on 29 November which turned out to be violent and resulted in arrests, the atmosphere of the Arc de Triomphe was joyful, even festive. Almost everyone wore a red tulip, and many flags waved or wore banners, or had more creative accessories.