As It Happens

Paris climate march in doubt over security concerns

The Paris climate summit is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of demonstrators later this month. But in the aftermath of the deadly Paris attacks, heightened security threatens to cancel the kick-off climate rally.
An employee installs a sticker with the logo of the upcoming COP21 Climate Change Conference near Paris, France, Nov. 16, 2015. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

The events around this month's Paris climate summit have been in the works for months. The climate march scheduled for Nov. 29 is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, from across the globe.

But in the aftermath of Friday's attacks, French officials are throwing that climate march -- and other events at the summit -- into question.

As It Happens host Carol Off spoke to Eros Sana today. He's an organizer with the environmental group

Carol Off: Mr Sana, what did the French foreign affairs minister have to say about the prospects of protesting at the climate summit later this month?

Eros Sana: We met with the French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius this morning, and he recognized the rights of the French civil society to express itself during the coming UN summit. The fact that our claim to maintain our mobilization was legitimate, even though the last attack on Paris -- this will be something that we have to take in mind. 

CO: What limitations then will be put on protesting at the climate change summit then?

ES: For the moment we don't know exactly what the limitations are. What is sure is that we have the will to keep on building mobilizations. And the question is, how will we adapt to this new context and situation? How will the security matters change the way we march, protest and demonstrate?

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has been in discussions with organizers of the Paris Climate Summit this week. There are concerns from demonstrators that security concerns in the wake of Friday's Paris attacks could cancel the climate march. (Anadolu Agency/AP)

CO: This is one of the most important summits in the history of the climate change effort. Having limits on your ability to demonstrate -- what effect will that have on the movement?

ES: We realize for us French people, the attack has totally shaken the nation, but we still are facing the climate emergency, and we do have to mobilize -- not just to say that the climate justice movement is strong, but also to express support to the French nation. People will come from all over the world -- from Europe, Canada, the U.S., Africa, Asia. The climate movement is also a peace movement, and they will express the support to the French people.

CO: Are you hearing from any groups who may not attend because of what happened in Paris on Friday?

ES: I have to be honest, people are concerned. It's a security matter.  But no one has told me they will not come. They are willing to come and to be in Paris. If you can guarantee security for Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau, you can also give some security for common French or common Canadians, who come in the street and want to support the climate effort. People are still very willing to come to Paris. If we say [in France] that we have the right to keep our way of life, to go to cafes and drink wine - we also have the right and the duty to be in the streets and keep the momentum for the climate justice movement.

In the coming days, the French government is expected to announce more details about the state of emergency and how this might impact public demonstrations.

This interview was edited for length and clarity. 

To hear the full interview please click on the Listen audio link above.


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