Time to cycle
Anna Clayton reports back from her cycle to Paris
On Saturday night I returned to Lancaster from the Paris climate talks, having completed a five day cycle from London to Paris.
I joined 130 other cyclists in crossing France through wind and rain, reaching the French capital on Thursday 10th in the evening. Our group of amateur cyclists and commuters, otherwise known as ‘Time to Cycle’, aimed to demonstrate how another world is possible, and that anyone can make the journey to France by peddle power whether it be on a second hand rusty bike or a racer.
Time to Cycle participated in the giant red line protest on the Champs Élysées on Saturday 12th alongside 15,000 others individuals, despite France’s ‘state of emergency’ banning protests involving more than two people – a rule the French authorities decided to relax on Saturday as they presumably didn’t know how to cope with thousands of determined environmentalists!
The red lines ran from the Arc de Triomphe to the business district of La Défense (arguably society’s big carbon emitters), and were created with red material, red bodies, red tulips and umbrellas. The lines symbolically marked the lines for climate change that we cannot allow ourselves to cross. We must keep global temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius if we are to create a liveable world for the most vulnerable in society.
Although the Paris climate agreement was a step in the right direction, and does aim to keep warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, it is still very weak. It demonstrates that local initiatives such as divesting from fossil fuels and establishing local energy cooperatives and food and transport systems remain a key route to tackling climate change.
2016 has been announced the year of direct action against the fossil fuel industry. Actions are planned against coal mines in Germany, against Shell in Nigeria and much more. The key 'red lines' to tackle in the UK remains fracking, an industry the UK government seems keen to push ahead despite agreeing to Paris's carbon emission reductions.
By working together to oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure and the money that funds similar polluting industries, we have an opportunity to push for the low carbon transition we desperately need to see.
For more information about COP 21 and the actions that took place outside of the meeting room visit newint.org/themes/environment/
Read our feature on COP21 and company lobbying.