- Parisian climate activists are taking a stand against energy waste by turning off shop signs and advertising screens at night.
- Municipal authorities in Paris have ordered lights out for signs and advertising from December, but activists say that’s not soon enough.
- The French government is urging citizens to reduce their electricity consumption this winter amid the energy crisis.
- For more financial news, visit The front page of News24 Business.
Parisian climate activists have found a new way to get their message across against energy waste in the City of Light – turning off shop signs and advertising screens that stay on all night, despite the government urging people to reduce their electricity consumption.
At 9:00 p.m. on a recent evening, around 20 members of Extinction Rebellion gathered for a tactical briefing before dispersing on another nighttime raid.
If the police spot them, “we absolutely do not run away”, assures “Joad”, a 32-year-old veteran of the movement, detailing the legal risks and advising those who could be arrested.
“There are 12 million people who are cold in France because they cannot heat their homes, and on the other hand we waste this energy in billboards which are completely useless consumption”, he explains. at AFP.
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After distributing posters and materials, including telescopic poles to reach outdoor light switches, Joad’s team headed for the lively Marais district, a magnet for both Parisians and tourists, where dozens of traders have points of sale.
Click, and off goes a Levi’s sign. On other storefronts, the group sticks posters saying “It’s not Versailles!” – the scolding heard by generations of French children when they leave the lights on unnecessarily.
The team targets opticians, jewelers, perfumeries and mattress stores as well as the many illuminated signs, opening the frames to turn them off and replacing the advertisements with their own posters.
The government, under pressure as Russia limits its gas exports to Europe, has urged people to exercise energy ‘restriction’ as winter approaches, including lowering home heating thermostats to 19 degrees Celsius.
It also issued an executive order that neon signs and advertising must be turned off from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., starting in June 2023.
The town hall of Paris went further by ordering the extinction of signs and advertising from 11:45 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. from December.
For climate activists, it’s not soon enough.
“We know it’s very symbolic because the electricity used by illuminated signs is only a tiny fraction of the energy used by the country,” said “Pikou”, a 36-year-old man who also used a pseudonym.
The biggest problem for Pikou is the government’s “double talk”.
“What angers me, and that’s why I’m here tonight, is that the government is asking ordinary people to show restraint, with small gestures like turning down the heat or turning off the Wi- Fi, but he doesn’t have the political courage to demand the same restraint from companies,” he said.
As the activists progress through the winding streets of the Marais, their actions are often applauded by passers-by.
“I totally agree with them,” says Federica, a tourist from Milan. Anna, who also stops to watch, calls the neon signs “a disgrace.”
One store in particular has drawn the wrath of activists. It’s a clothing store touting its environmental credentials with the slogan ‘Because there is no planet B’ – alongside three large advertising screens.
The screens are quickly covered with posters.
“It’s the first phase. It’s about awareness and prevention,” says Joad, adding that some store owners are responding with messages of support and promising to turn off the lights.
“For those who keep the lights on and continue this waste, we will move into phase two, which will be a little bolder, starting in December.”