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OIL

French fountains site of protest against Total’s Brazil oil project

Fountains were tinted black in several French towns Saturday during protests against plans by oil giant Total to drill near a coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon.

French fountains site of protest against Total's Brazil oil project
Greenpeace activists stand in a fountain in Nantes. Photo: AFP

The protesters insist the plan threatens a “unique” natural habitat.

“The Amazon reef is not an oil well” and “Defend the Amazon reef,” read banners held aloft by supporters of Greenpeace and environmental group ANV-Cop21 as they converged on some 30 towns including Paris, Rennes in the west, Bordeaux in the south, and Nancy in the east.

At the stylish early nineteenth century Lions de Nubie fountain in Paris' La Villette district, some protesters daubed themselves with molasses, waded into the water and smeared the sticky black goo on the structure.

“Total insists on going after oil when there are ecosystems and jewels of (ecological) diversity to preserve. It's no longer the age of oil but of transition” to cleaner forms of energy, Greenpeace campaigner Edina Ifticene told AFP.


Photo: AFP

The protests came as Total was preparing to unveil the findings of a new study into the planned project's impact to Brazilian authorities.

Greenpeace has documented the existence of coral in the target area.

In late May, Brazil's environmental agency Ibama urged Total to look deeper into the consequences of drilling, judging its initial study “insufficient.”

“We have four months to respond. We are being asked to undertake extra studies and we shall do so,” Total chairman Patrick Pouyanne said at the time, insisting thecompany would ensure the plan respects the environment.

At the same time, the company rejected as “non-existent” the risks highlighted by opponents.

Greenpeace says the coral reef, discovered in 2016 — some three years after Total bought exploration blocks just a handful of kilometres (miles) away, is larger than first thought and extends into the area where Total wants to drill.

It is concerned of the effects of a potential oil spill on the ecosystem and nearby coastal mangrove.

“We have to stop this abuse. The oil firm should not drill near this ecosystem and near this mangrove which, if touched by an oil slick would be impossible to clean up,” insisted Ifticene.

READ ALSO: Paris: Black-clad protesters prompt partial evacuation of Louvre

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PROTESTS

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

Students blockaded five schools in Paris on Tuesday to demonstrate their political concerns ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

In addition to the five blockaded lycées, the université Paris 8 in Saint-Denis was closed “for security reasons”.

The students – who are too young to make their voices heard at the ballot box – were protesting against the options available to voters in the second round – where incumbent Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right leader Marine Le Pen – and follows earlier student protests at the Sorbonne.

Many were demonstrating in protest at what they saw as inadequate policies on climate change and social issues from both candidates in the final round of voting, as well as the lack of choice for the electorate.

“It is a continuation of what happened at the Sorbonne,” one student told AFP. “We want a third social round, because the two candidates qualified for the second round have no social or ecological programmes. 

“We want to give a new breath to this Fifth Republic a little at the end of the race.

“We are fed up with the fascist state. We are here against Marine Le Pen, against fascism, for the climate and against capitalism,” another student at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in the capital’s fifth arrondissement said.

“We have blocked all the entrances. We will stay there as long as possible.”

About 100 students blockaded the prestigious school. Some students chant slogans against the “Front National” – the former name of second-round candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

The blockades ended peacefully at the end of the day.

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