Paris climate marches cancelled over security fears

Madeleine Cuff
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French government authorises demonstrations in closed spaces but deems full-scale march too dangerous after terror attacks

Two climate marches through the streets of Paris, scheduled to coincide with an international climate conference in the city later this month, have been cancelled for security reasons following last week's terror attacks.

French authorities said on Wednesday that the French government has decided not to authorise the demonstrations in order to "avoid additional risks" to security in the capital during the summit. However, demonstrations in closed spaces or locations where security can be easily assured will be allowed to go ahead.

"The situation created by the horrible attacks of November 13 and the investigations conducted require security measures to be reinforced," Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, said in the statement. "This is a tough decision that will no doubt disappoint some who were planning to participate, but in the current situation, the demand for security requires it."

Organisers had expected the marches to attract around 200,000 people to put pressure on world leaders to reach a deal to tackle climate change. Climate activists reacted with dismay to the decision, but said the public's voice would still be heard through other events in Paris and in cities around the world. Parallel marches in more than 50 locations are planned for the 28th and 29th of November, including events in London, Tokyo and Sydney.

Nicolas Haeringer, a French campaigner at 350.org, said the voice of campaigners will not be silenced. "While this makes it difficult to go forward with our original plans, we will still find a way for people in Paris to make the call for climate justice heard, and we encourage everyone around the world to join a Global Climate March and raise their voices louder than ever," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Jean-Francois Juilliard, executive director of Greenpeace France, said activists would find "new, imaginative ways" to communicate in Paris. "Huge numbers were expected in Paris, but those people will not be silenced," he added.

French and UN officials confirmed earlier this week that the UN climate summit will go ahead under tightened security in the wake of the recent terror attacks on the French capital, which left more than 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

Despite tightened security measures, fears remain that a number of side events planned alongside the main negotiations may be cancelled if delegates decide not to attend over safety fears. For example, Scotland's 2020 Climate Group - which is planning a business leadership event at the summit - is asking for delegates to confirm their attendance at the conference in light of the attacks before deciding whether to proceed.

This article is part of BusinessGreen's Road to Paris hub, hosted in association with PwC.

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