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10,000 Form Human Chain in Paris Demanding World Leaders Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground
Thousands of Parisians and activists from around the world joined hands to form a human chain along Boulevard Voltaire in Paris this afternoon. According to Agence France Presse, nearly 10,000 people took part in the demonstration.
“We joined hands today against climate change and violence,” said Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Manager for 350.org. “People here in Paris, and hundreds of thousands who are taking part in climate marches worldwide, have a clear message for world leaders: keep fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.”
The chain stretched all the way from the Oberkampf metro stop, just down the boulevard from Place de Republique, passed the Bataclan theater, where the tragic attacks of Nov. 13 took place, and down to Place de la Nation. Parents, children, activists and delegates to the COP21 climate talks from around the world joined hands together to call for peace and climate justice.
As the gathering took place in Paris, hundreds of thousands of people took part in Global Climate Marches around the world. Some of the largest marches drew thousands to tens of thousands of people in Quezon City, Sydney, Melbourne, Cairo, London, Tokyo, Barcelona, Berlin, Johannesburg and more. Demonstrators called on politicians to end the use of fossil fuels and finance a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
After the tragic attacks of Nov. 13, the French Authorities banned all public rallies and demonstrations, including the planned Paris Climate March. Members of the Climate Coalition 21, the coalition organizing the march, pulled together the human chain as a last minute alternative.
“Today’s human chain sets the stage for the creative and powerful ways in which civil society will continue to mobilize throughout the coming weeks as the climate talks unfold in Paris," said Nicolas Haeringer 350.org campaigner in France. "The movements call for climate justice is more urgent than ever as we see the climate crisis unfold worldwide,” he added.
Organizers intentionally kept the number of participants in the demonstration low and stuck to the sidewalks in order to avoid a direct confrontation with the police. Over the last few days, a number of activists have been placed under house arrest, raising concerns that the French authorities are unnecessarily repressing civil liberties during the State of Emergency. Activists see Sunday’s demonstration as an encouraging sign that more demonstrations may be allowed during the coming two weeks of the climate summit.
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"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.