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Extinction Rebellion mount ‘civil disobedience’ protests in Paris

The eco movement occupied several major boulevards in the capital in a bid to call on the forthcoming new government to take stronger action against climate change

An orange protest flag with the Extinction Rebellion symbol in black

The “non-violent civil disobedience” protests were organised under the Extinction Rebellion banner and occupied some major boulevards in Paris Pic: Daniel Samray / Shutterstock

Climate change protesters under the Extinction Rebellion banner have been mounting “civil disobedience” demonstrations in Paris to call on the next government to take action on global warming.

Hundreds of protesters have been occupying parts of the capital’s major boulevards in the 2nd and 10th arrondissements since Saturday (April 16), with most dispersed by yesterday evening (Monday, April 18). 

Some sat on the roads, others played the guitar or carried placards, and makeshift barriers and chairs closed off the streets. 

They have dubbed their movement “non-violent civil disobedience”. One large banner read: “This world is dying, let’s build the next one.”

The Paris protests were joined by similar movements in other major cities, including New York and London.

The aim of the sit-in in Paris is to bring attention to the climate change emergency, following the alarm issued by the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and to put pressure on the next government, whoever wins the final round of the French presidential election on April 24.

Read more: Floods, heatwaves: New report predicts global warming effect on France 

Few of the presidential candidates appear to have put environmental issues high on their campaign agenda, including second-round adversaries Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. 

One protester told FranceInfo: “Marches and petitions are useful, but given the urgency of the climate change question, we must take it up a gear. Moving to non-violent, civil disobedience to call on our leaders.”

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Yesterday the protesters ran a yoga class. One of the participants said: “It’s really good to destress your muscles and appreciate the ambience of this good-natured protest.”

Yet, the urgency of the situation remained in the air. One protester, who had come from Lille, said: “What really worries me is the risk of famine. Eventually, if there is no more food for everyone, you can’t just magic it up, and that is one of my recurring worries that sometimes keeps me up at night.”

Some of the passers-by appeared to sympathise with the movement, despite the disruption. One local resident said: “We have to make an effort. We’re among the richest in the world, which is precisely what enables us to fix this problem. We’ve had one COP21, and now we’re waiting [for action].”

However, another local was less positive. They said: “I care about the climate, but they could protest differently, and not annoy everyone who is passing by or going to work.”

The two-day protest wrapped up yesterday, with most of the protesters dispersing by Monday night.

Related articles

Greenpeace France: Tackling climate change is our priority 

How climate change will affect major cities in France by 2050

Report: Pyrenees temperatures up 30% on global average

Paris facing extreme floods and longer heatwaves, says mairie study

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