29 Nov 2015

French climate activists put under house arrest

6:03 pm on 29 November 2015

French climate change activists have been placed under house arrest as world leaders gather in Paris for the United Nations climate talks.

Public demonstrations have been banned in France since the Paris terror attacks and the government says the activists are suspected of planning violent protests.

A protest in Paris on 26 November against the ban on public gatherings introduced after the attacks in the city. The banner reads "No to the state of emergency", "The emergency concerns social and climate issues".

A protest in Paris on 26 November against the ban on public gatherings introduced after the attacks in the city. The banner reads "No to the state of emergency", "The emergency concerns social and climate issues". Photo: AFP

Following the 13 November attacks on Paris in which 130 people were killed, the French government declared the state of emergency, banning public demonstrations and giving police extended powers of search and surveillance.

Green groups said the arrests were an abuse of power and activists now planned to make a static human chain, formed by about 3400 people joining arms along what had been the original three kilometre route for a protest march through central Paris.

They believed a human chain would not violate the state of emergency.

Greenpeace France director Jean-François Julliard said that, to his knowledge, all the ecologists under house arrest were pacifist activists who had never committed any violent acts nor been charged with anything.

"We have the feeling that (the government) wants to stifle criticism from the militants, but they are going about it in the worst possible way, this is repression," he said on BFM television.

Separately, more than 10,000 demonstrators who had planned to come to Paris have instead sent shoes to form a big pile in a sign of solidarity.

Organisers say the Vatican even sent a pair to represent Pope Francis.

Thousands protest around the world

There have been protests in 600 cities in more than 120 countries around the world calling for stronger measures to combat global warming.

More than 20,000 people took part in rallies around New Zealand yesterday, with more events planned today in Christchurch, Dunedin, Wanaka, Greymouth, Takaka, Hamilton and Whangarei.

Prime Minister John Key is among leaders representing more than 180 countries at the summit.

Mr Key said he was not prepared at this stage to increase New Zealand's current commitment of a 30 percent reduction on 2005 emissions levels, but was not ruling out doing more as the technology allowed it.

- Reuters / RNZ / ABC

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