"It's nice to be able to demonstrate again"
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“It’s nice to be able to demonstrate again” | Climates Changes

The tricolor flags of the Pantheon flutter in the wind. The columns of the monument shine under the rays of the sun. On the ground, on the pebbles, several dozen signs were collected: Ecology without class struggle is gardening “,” The sea rises, so does our anger “,” You look better without carbon . Crouched at the foot of the heap, everyone chooses the slogan that corresponds to him… with a certain nostalgia for the good old days.

It has been a year and a half since the young people gathered to scream their anger. The last climate march dates back to September 2019, even before the word Covid-19 invaded all our discussions. Then, inevitably, at the call of the Youth for Climate movement and about forty other organizations, students, high school students and young workers mobilized in large numbers, this Friday 19 March. Objective: to raise the lid on climate and environmental issues since the beginning of the pandemic, but also to denounce the unease of young people who have fallen into precariousness.

We didn’t care

In the distance the bells of a church ring. It’s two o’clock. Within minutes, the then deserted Piazza del Pantheon filled with several hundred people. In the midst of this crowd, Alyosha, 17, struggles to hide her annoyance: All the measures presented in the climate law should have been reduced by at least 40 % greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But the government has rejected so many proposals from the Citizens’ Convention that this target can never be achieved. Our future depends in part on this text, we cannot tolerate it being made of scoop. Student in the first year of the preparatory class, he was already there in 2019.

Next to him, 16-year-old Alice is typing on her cell phone. A high school student in Val-de-Marne tries to get her classmates to skip afternoon classes to come and demonstrate. It also regrets the content of the climate law, adopted by the parliamentary committee on the night between Thursday 18 March and Friday: The only goal is to say: “We are acting for the environment”. It is a showcase that should help relieve tension and calm students’ anger. But in reality, there aren’t enough measures to make a difference.

Perched on a concrete block, Youth for Climate France activist Noé Gauchard grabs a microphone to address the crowd: You’ve heard of Citizen’s Climate Convention ? Everyone answers in the affirmative. Bad news … we had a good fuck ! The change will not come from above, I think it is clear. So it will come from below, from you, from us. With these encouraging words, the procession sets off in the direction of Boulevard Saint-Michel.

Two inseparable struggles

The songs follow the applause. The atmosphere is festive, warm. There are CRS they are discreet. Lined up with shields in hand, helmets hanging from their belts, they watch the parade. Quentin and Pierre-Alexandre did not know each other. They just met and are arguing as they move forward. Student insecurity, climate crisis, biodiversity collapse … These problems feed each other “, launches the first, a former student of Science Po Paris. The second, a student of a master’s degree in Chemistry, answers this: Exactly ! It is inseparable. There is no fight more important than another. If we do nothing to prevent climate catastrophe, there will be more and more student insecurity. What is happening right now with the pandemic is a glimpse of what could happen in the future if nothing is done. Indeed, this march for the climate is also and above all a march against student precariousness.

Before the pandemic, we met every Friday to show our disagreement with the state’s social and environmental policy. And then we got stuck for a year. It’s nice to be able to demonstrate again, I’ve seen it again. Julie is 20 years old. A third-year history student, she is worried about the reconfirmation announced on Thursday 18 March by the Prime Minister, Jean Castex: In the last year, loneliness has been omnipresent for us students. I have friends in trouble in college, we can’t stand being alone anymore. A sad reality that worries Agatha. Secondary school student, learns his future: Next year I will be a student and when I see a student suffering on TV I get worried. They feel bad, they no longer see anyone. And that’s not to mention the financial difficulties. For a while, Thomas, a law student, was well on his way to handing out food baskets: Either that or I wasn’t paying for my apartment “, he confides, a painful smile on his lips.


A crowd has formed around a small orchestra. Between two refrains, Gaëtan, trumpet player, launches: We are some young musicians from the neighborhood who needed to get some fresh air, party, dance, play … We miss it all so much ! Dressed in purple from head to toe, Josie dances to a cover of the famous Italian revolt song Hello beautiful. 82 years old and activist since May 68, she came to support the new generations: I have no children, but I find it shameful, in a developed country like ours, to let students live in such conditions. Successive governments act slowly, but time is running out. We must stop feeding capitalism and multinationals to finally take care of the Earth and its inhabitants. The leader of the procession continues towards the National Assembly. On Sunday, March 29, they will once again take to the streets of Paris to demonstrate … if imprisonment will allow it.

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Source: Emmanuel Clévenot for Reporter

Images : © Mathieu Genon/Reporter

. chapô: Friday 19 March, place du Panthéon, in Paris.


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