Climate change protesters block access to French multinationals
19 Apr 2019
Environmental activists block the entrance to the headquarters of French bank in La Defense near Paris on Friday. Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Climate activists blocked hundreds of employees from entering the headquarters of French bank Societe Generale, state-run utility EDF and oil giant Total on Friday, environmental group Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace said it was protesting against the companies links to the oil and gas industry, which the group says is a driving force in global warming.
They plastered giant posters of President Emmanuel Macron carrying the slogan “Macron, President of Polluters” and a banner reading “Scene of Climate Crime” on the glass facade of Societe Generale, Reuters TV images showed.
Police pepper-sprayed one group blocking the bank’s main entrance in a sit-down protest.
Some protesters taped themselves together while others cuffed themselves with plastic ties to metal poles to make it harder for police to dislodge them.
Employees in business suits milled around outside their offices. “I just want to get inside and on with my work,” one frustrated bank employee said.
A Societe Generale spokesman declined to comment. An EDF spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.
The protest came as Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol, and the chairman of of the Libya National Oil Corporation were due to attend an annual oil summit in Paris.
Greenpeace and action group Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth) have previously criticised Societe Generale for their financial role in oil and gas projects, in particular the Rio Grande LNG gas project in the United States.
Friday’s protest echoed a series by the Extinction Rebellion group of climate-change campaigners in London this week that have caused transport snarl-ups in the British capital.
Teenage protesters staged an emotional protest, weeping and singing, at political inaction on climate change near London’s Heathrow Airport on Friday.