Sue Robert's first day in Paris, joining climate change campaigners in a city where the police arrest anyone in groups of more than 5 people.
I just loved it, when I spotted the reading matter in my Friends of the Earth Eurostar carriage to Paris - only one sport reading Game of Thrones. Once in Paris, we were off in all directions. Richard and I found ourselves being trained by FoE and 350.org in safety issues.
In the State of Emergency that Paris has declared, we may not gather in groups of more than 3-5 people. FoE have one plan for tomorrow, 350 another, and meanwhile, Greenpeace is spraying (compostable) yellow paint around the Arc de Triomphe.
So, we have been taught that should we be arrested, by accidentally standing too near to another group of 3-5 people and so being deemed to be a group of 6-10 people, we have to declaim the phrase “Je n’ai rien a declare’, ideally refuse to have our DNA sampled, remember the names of the lawyers we should ask the police to call (we rehearsed these names together, we are not allowed to write them down) and then get the word out that a certain phone number should be called so that the greater community knows of our plight.
Crikey. So, we accepted the red tulips and will wander out to the various venues for the various demonstrations tomorrow. Of course, we would all love publicity - if we are not noticed then we have had no effect. However, we must take care that we are not photographed, nor should we take photos, as this would incriminate us if we are standing in a group of 6-10.
What a sad contrast to Copenhagen 2009, which we attended because Richard was giving a science talk at COP. There, a thoroughgoing parallel ‘Klima’ conference was in full swing. We saw Desmond Tutu, just missed Al Gore, enjoyed the exhibitions and displays in the centre of the town, and saw Copenhagen really absorbing the story.
Here, we travel on the metro, on the light railway, walk the streets, and most people are completely unaware of this vital, last-chance conference. The saving grace tonight for us, in the north-east suburbs of Paris in an Airbnb as close to COP21 as we could get, was spontaneous Moroccan-Algerian music and dance in the local French restuarant. Life goes on, for now.