Paris By Night – But Then Different

By Geert Decock

I arrived on Thursday afternoon in Paris. As a tourist to Paris, you are faced with the impossible decision about which places to visit first: Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees… the list is endless and well-known. With the terrorist attacks fresh in my memory, my first visit was to the Bataclan club in the lively 11th district of Paris to pay my respect to the victims. I also biked past Place de la République where a lot of political demonstrations in France start, as the statues on the square symbolize the three key principles – liberty, equality and fraternity – of the French republic. As you can see from the pictures, the memory of the attacks is still very fresh… thousands of flowers and candles commemorate the victims.

I’d almost forgot the reason for visiting Paris in the first place: The Paris climate summit or the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In short, COP21. First item of business: Attending the awards ceremony of the Pinocchio Awards. It is a yearly event that our colleagues at Friends of the Earth France have been organizing since 2008. With the COP21 in Paris, the organisers decided to focus this year’s Pinocchio Awards on climate change. As usual, there were three categories: Lobbying, greenwashing and local impacts. I also took part in the vote – together with 42.000 other people – and used my vote to expose the strategy of those companies that promote fracking, shale gas and natural gas in general. No surprises there! I am happy to report that I helped to pick one of the winners: Super-oil-major Chevron won the 2015 Pinocchio Climate Award in the category ‘Lobbying’ by a wide margin (40%). This is how the jury explained the reasons why Chevron was nominated:

Chevron: lobbying governments and ignoring communities in Argentina and worldwide

Oil giant Chevron has embarked on a global push for fracking, often with the support of US diplomats. In Argentina, Chevron has used lobbying, political connections and intolerable tactics to push its fracking agenda and protect its interests in its only unconventional exploitation project outside of North America.

You can find a more detailed explanation of how Chevron plans to expand fracking around the world and how one of the world’s wealthiest companies is supported by the American government in its efforts on the Pinocchio Climate Awards website.

The ‘winner’ (loser?) in the category ‘Greenwashing’ was the French company EDF: EDF is a sponsor of the COP21, but also presents nuclear energy as a carbon-free energy source. And the mega-bank BNP Paribas, which is also sponsoring the COP21, won the award for ‘Local Impacts’. They won because the COP21 sponsorship has not stopped from financing new coal projects around the world. Here are some pictures from a fun night exposing the shameful action of some of the world’s biggest polluters, standing in the way of real action on climate change.

Exposing Chevron’s actions on fracking was a great start for the 2015 Global Frackdown to Paris. Stay tuned for more.

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