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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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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.