One of the characteristics of the COP21 in Paris is that it was held during a state of emergency that initially prevented mobilizations and therefore totally affected expression, popular participation and the small possibility provided by the streets to express disagreement and try to influence the decisions of governments, guided by the big transnationals.
Environmental activists expected 200,000 people to attend the large marches called for November 29 and December 12, the day after the end of the official Summit.
But that year was a convulsive year in France due to the fact that it was considered a target of Islamist groups, for its participation in the war against AlQaida, but also for its participation in the war in Iraq and Syria, and in Mali against Islamists from 2013 to 2014. In January 2015 occurred the attack against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, with 12 dead. On November 13, 6 suicide attacks resulted in the death of 131 people. As a result, the government declared a state of emergency from that day on.
This meant that all demonstrations planned for the climate summit were also banned. In the end, the outdoor ones were banned, allowing only indoor activities, which allowed the thousands of climate activists who came to Paris to gather.
The organizers proposed to look for «new and imaginative» ways to make their voices heard, such as a «people’s summit,» a «climate action zone» involving schools and community groups, and a day of civil disobedience at the end of the summit.
However, due to the seriousness of the case and the importance of the moment, on November 29, activists defied the measures and demonstrated. 4,500 demonstrators gathered at the Republic Square. The police dispersed them with gas and 341 people were arrested.
Earlier, 10,000 people, according to the organizers – including Bizi!- joined hands from the Republic Square to the Nation Square, the route that the climate march, cancelled after the attacks, was supposed to follow.
Hours earlier, thousands of shoes took over the Place de la RÃ©publique as an alternative to the march to denounce climate change. (These included shoes of the Pope, Ban Ki-moon and Vivienne Westwood).
On December 6, 6,000 people formed a human chain on the beach in Ostend (Belgium) because of the impossibility of demonstrating in Paris.
Several NGOs, such as Greenpeace, complained about what they saw as the abusive use of the state of emergency in France to silence those who wanted to show their discontent during the Climate Summit.