French activists use Macron portraits to urge climate action

PARIS — French environmental activists brandished stolen portraits of President Emmanuel Macron at a protest Sunday near the Eiffel Tower to try to push the government to do more to fight climate change.

The protest is part of an unusual climate movement that has taken root around France this year, in which activists have stolen more than 130 portraits of Macron from town halls from the Alps to the Atlantic.

They feel the centrist, business-friendly Macron isn’t doing enough to reduce France’s emissions, even though he portrays himself on the global stage as Mr. Climate.

The activists brought the portraits to Sunday’s protest — carrying them upside down to show what they consider Macron’s hypocrisy — to call for bolder government action at the U.N. COP25 climate talks currently underway in Madrid.

Pauline Boyer from climate group ANV COP21 said the demonstration is aimed at showing “that Emmanuel Macron uses doublespeak, by presenting himself as a climate champion while he is not enforcing a true policy in France that could tackle the environment challenge.”

Activists are notably angry that France has lagged on its international commitments to increase use of solar and wind energy and reduce emissions. France remains well behind its European neighbours in its use of renewable energy.

Macron has stood up to U.S. President Donald Trump on the need for countries and corporations to co-operate to cut emissions. However, Macron backed down on a fuel tax last year meant to help wean France off fossil fuels, because the tax triggered the yellow vest protest movement against economic injustice.

The activists at Sunday’s protest held 100 portraits, to mark 100 days until France’s municipal elections to replace mayors in town halls across the country. They want to urge future mayors to take local climate action, and some held a banner reading: “Local elections — D-day minus 100, let’s reveal Macron’s real face.”

Activists are facing trials around France for the thefts, with some acquitted and some hit with fines.

The Associated Press