Photos: by Claire Babok
The chant “Et on est chauds, plus chauds, plus chauds que le climat!” rang through the streets of Reims on the afternoon of Sunday, January 27 as close to two hundred Remois marched through the city center to call for climate action. The march was not alone in its endeavor on Sunday but was instead a sister-march in a large network of protests organized across France and Belgium that brought over 150,000 people to the streets.
According to the event’s description, the march was organized to bring attention to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report that insists “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” The march demanded that all present and future government policies work toward stopping a rise in the earth’s temperature by more than 1.5 degrees celsius. Laura Tirollois, SPE President and a march attendee, had a similar motivation for marching last Sunday. In her words: “We marched because this is urgent, extremely urgent and each ton of emission counts… We marched in Reims to tell people more not to forget, not to ignore and to get involved with us for climate justice. As citizens, it is our duty to claim before the state our right to a safe and healthy environment.”
Arta Ismajli, another Sciences Po student in attendance, was marching for the first time in the streets of her new home. When asked about her experience at the march, she said “I definitely had a unique experience for several reasons: considering that Reims is not that big of a city, I was expecting a smaller turnout of people for some reason, and even though it wasn’t massive, I felt like it was enough for it to actually make a statement as well as spread a positive message. Also, it was really cool to get to march around parts of the city that I don’t usually or almost never walk by, which gave me the opportunity to explore the city in a more unconventional way, if you will.”
Only a few pedestrians were out on the overcast afternoon, and the quiet streets were quickly filled with the reverberating sound of the march. When Laura Tirollois was asked whether she felt the march was an effective way to reach the goal of climate justice, she responded “I dare say that we were not many but we made the sound it took to get it in local news and papers. But for sure it was not a very impactful action.”
Whether truly effective or not in spreading their message, the climate activists of Reims filled the streets with music, whistles, chants, speeches, and even a bit of dancing last Sunday, and will likely be out there again in the coming months. Whether marches like these will actually change the government’s climate policy remains to be seen.