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Locals ride to Paris for climate change protests

CAMPAIGNERS from Frome recently cycled to Paris for the COP21 climate conference, joining thousands of people calling on world leaders to take urgent action. 

Nick Spicer and Annabelle Macfadyen rode to the French capital as world leaders were engaged in talks at the biggest ever summit tackling climate change.

Annabelle who has long been concerned about climate change joined Time to Cycle, a campaign group against climate change in order to show her support for change.

She said, “I’ve been concerned about climate change for as long as we’ve been aware of the effects of carbon emissions. I feel very strongly about what we are doing to our planet and as I’m just about to become a grandmother, I am very aware of what world we are leaving for future generations.

“It was amazing to be part of such a strong citizen embolisation which was very powerful. A multitude of groups from around the world came together to voice concerns not only on climate change but on other related issues such as the refugee crisis.

“It was an uplifting and surreal experience arriving with 130 other cyclists on to the Champs-Elysees with flags flying and bells ringing. It was quite a powerful feeling to be part of it. I’m not a keen cyclist so it was a gruelling journey. The hills of French countryside are some that I have never experienced before. We rode from sunrise to after dark. It was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time.

“It was all about making a point and being noticed. Voices coming together with a shared purpose of calling on governments to make a strong agreement to limit carbon emissions.

“The cycling itself was part of the message – to choose a non-polluting form of transport and a slower, more human and co-operative way of being together.”

Nick, who is an operations director at a renewable technology firm in Bristol, delivered an environmental change manifesto to the mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, who was representing the city at the summit.

Nick said, “I feel it’s important to make a difference and demonstrate our commitment to improving the environment in which we live for this generation and the next.

“The realities of climate change are taking hold, so it is important we use this global stage to inspire our world leaders to make a difference.

“My hope is that politicians will wake up, see sense and have some urgency about themselves. It is the people first and increasingly businesses that are bringing about positive change, we just need governments to act at a local and international level.

“Climate change is real, it is happening and it is our responsibility to do something about it!”

Nick, a former army officer, took part in the cycle to present Love the Future’s proposals for environmental change in Bristol, the city which has this year been the European Green Capital.

He said on the challenge itself, “I wouldn’t say I’m a keen cyclist, this was only my third time on a road bike! The difficulty was perhaps trying to stay on the bike in my case.

“However, these challenges are relatively normal for me because I’m one of those people! I swam from Europe to Asia this summer and have just signed up for Marathon Des Sables in 2017.”

Protests took place across the world when global leaders met to discuss acting on climate change. The summit came to a head in mid-December and saw an agreement reached to try and slow global warming to below 2C during this century.