When walking through Paris, you have the impression that everybody is minding their own business. But in between Christmas decorations, tourists taking selfies and the still noticeable shock of the terrorist attacks, you suddenly spot it: a poster advocating a side event of the COP21.
Then you become increasingly aware of more and more climate-related information spread throughout the city. You spot a flyer lying on the floor advertising an art exhibition on the topic of climate change; you notice an advertisement for personal involvement in the fight against climate change; you see great infographics put up by the city of Paris. And then you realise -yes- maybe Paris does care. There is a visible attempt to inform people and an impression of caring about the events is strongly promoted.
Also, most of the people that you talk to seem to have at least noticed something. Though they may not be fully informed, they usually do know of the conference happening and sometimes even of some activism events surrounding it. Many Parisians organise or take part in events, but the increased security after the attacks does limit public gatherings and action by the bigger civilian society. Nevertheless, Paris doesn’t back down: Instead of the big climate march that was supposed to happen on November 29th, activists put masses of shoes to symbolise how many really do stand for action against climate change.
However, there are numerous people that have no clue of what’s going on and, honestly, also don’t seem to care much anyway: Firstly, there obviously are the masses of tourists that just want to see the Louvre, the Eiffel tower or Versailles. Secondly, there are Parisians whose daily life in the centre of Paris seldom touch upon the COP, let alone the issue of climate change. And then there are those for who the COP21 is just another big event hosted in Paris, effecting them by inconveniences caused by fuller metros and more security controls.
On our stroll through the city, we interviewed some people on the COP affecting their stay/ life in Paris and how they think they themselves can have an impact on its outcomes. Here are some of them:
” The city seemed greener. Oh and yes the light show at the Eiffel tower was turned off! ”
“The governments have no interest, that’s why every person has to act.”
“We need more education and a constant involvement for the fight against climate change, not only two weeks”
In terms of how the visual image of Paris is affected by the COP, here are some pictures:
While there are stark differences in involvement and engagement, the general image of Paris has been affected visually and – to some extent – also morally and cognitively.
Text by Marina and Johanna; Pictures by Richard and Marina