IN PHOTOS: Paris streets festive, call for climate justice
PARIS, France – Polar bears, mermaids, santa claus, and advocates marched along the streets of Paris on Saturday, December 12, in the name of climate justice.
Over 2,000 people were estimated to join the festive gathering across the pavements of Avenue de la Grande Armée. The French police only silently watched as colorful costumes and banners flooded the streets.
Traces of yellow paint embraced the roads – leftovers of a giant yellow sun painted around the Arc de Triomphe by advocates the previous day.
Mass demonstrations are currently banned in France, following the deadly Paris attacks in November.
Saturday, however, was different: People were allowed to take on the streets, not with violence but through peace and art.
The gathering came hours before the new climate agreement was finally adopted.
The organizers of the event, dubbed as the "D12 Mobilization," only disclosed the exact venue of the peaceful weekend protest a day before for security reasons.
Among the participants were Filipinos such as renowned artist AG Saño, who has been painting murals in France and the Philippines to call on climate action. Sano walked from Rome to Paris for 15 days, covering a total of 1,500 kilometers, carrying the voices of Yolanda (Haiyan) surivors.
“Climate justice is about being fair. If someone did something to you, that has to be returned,” Saño told reporters. “Many lives are annually to disasters brought about by the effects of climate change. This is becoming the new normal, but we must not accept it.”
“If lives and agriculture are lost, someone should be accountable. That’s what we’re after,” he said,” adding that he does not care what happens inside the climate conference since real change would only come from the people.
A fellow climate pilgrim, Greg Bituin Jr of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, is urging world leaders to push for climate justice.
“It shouldn’t be just on paper, but actually done,” Butuin said, stressing that the Philippine government should stick to its promise of committing to renewable energy. The irony, however, is how the Philippines continues to approve coal power plants, he said.
“They should walk the talk.”
Meanwhile, Rodne Galicha of Aksyon Klima questioned the weakness of the human rights element in the climate agreement. "Where are the rights of the farmers? It's not clear."
Hours away from a climate agreement, thousands flowed from the Arc de Triomphe toward the Eiffel Tower. In front of the iconic beauty, advocates continued their dance, music, and chants.
Advocates carried a long trail of red cloth, representing "red lines." In climate negotiations vocabulary, a red line is an issue that cannot be compromised.
For civil society groups, some of these red lines include zero emission, climate finance, justice, and equity. The red lines were first rolled out in Le Bourget during the sidelines of the talks.
Here are more snapshots from Paris: