This morning we spoke to Sama, who will be cycling from London to Paris with Time to Cycle, a network of cyclists mobilising against climate change in Paris, before and beyond. She explained us why she’s cycling to the COP, Time to Cycle’s plans for their journey and in Paris and how they are responding and preparing given the state of emergency declared in France.
COP21 is around the corner. It is yet unclear what shape the planned mobilisations may take after last weeks’ tragic attacks in Paris, and the state of emergency declared by the French government. However, French campaigners have already said that their struggle for climate justice will not stop and thousands of people from around the world, are still determined to get to Paris and are hoping to still make happen and participate in the multitude of grassroots activities, workshops, meetings, actions and events that have been planned in the French capital over the last few months.
To get to Paris, some will easily hop on a car, coach, train or plane, or even a bike, and reach France; others are simply being denied entry.
Mobility is a big issue in our globalised world. Freedom of movement is heavily determined by the colour of our skin, the money in our pockets, and the lottery of where, we were born. No matter the horrors people are escaping from, their mobility and hopes for a safer life are mercilessly curtailed by the same powers that are creating those horrors.
Mobility also refers to the transport systems our societies are organised around. Transport is a hot potato when we talk about climate change. Being responsible for 22 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, the transport trends and systems that fuel and dominate affluent economies and lifestyles need to be seriously challenged. We are literally being chocked to death on our streets by the fumes of an ever increasing number of cars and lorries; and communities are being destroyed by yet more airport expansion and road building programmes.
A few weeks ago, the world was outraged by Volkswagen’s cynical deceit about vehicle emissions, yet few questioned the car centric culture governments and corporations are pushing on us as part of a package of extreme energy consumption and false convenience that all too often many of us seem willing to accept. But there are alternatives. There are far cleaner and more community oriented ways to meet our transport needs. Cycling is an obvious example. The Paris mobilisations are also an opportunity to show the world that alternatives already exist.