Who are the 'Last Renovation' climate protesters crashing sporting events?

·4-min read
REUTERS - GONZALO FUENTES

When French environmental campaigners Dernière Rénovation (Last Renovation) briefly halted the Tour de France in the Alps on Tuesday, they hooked into a global audience. It's just one of several sporting events targeted this summer by climate activists to get their message across.

Racing in the 10th stage of the Tour de France was halted for 15 minutes with 38kms to go to the finish line at the Alpine town of Megeve due to a protest staged by nine activists from the group.

While police removed the protesters from the road, riders took a break to cool down with some water, while TV cameras panned across the crowd of enthusiastic spectators.

A woman identified as Alizée brandished her white t-shirt with the words: "We have 989 days left" at the cameras.

"I would prefer not to have had to do this," she says, explaining she would rather have been with her grandfather watching the tour on the television from his sofa.

Better housing

Last Renovation, which was created in April this year, took the opportunity to publish messages on Twitter explaining their actions which, they said, fit into an international civil resistance movement.

"The effects of the announcement, the pitiful effects of language on the so-called "radicality" of the environmental action of (the French government) and Emmanuel Macron are intolerable and criminal.

"We demand that the government properly renovate ... all homes by 2040," a reference to the need to overhaul building standards to incorporate better energy saving mechanisms.

They also want more financial aid for middle income families to cope with the cost of living.

"We can no longer sit by and watch this climate disaster. It must change," it added.

The same group members interrupted the French tennis open at Roland Garros in June.

A member of the group wore a top with "We have 1,028 days left" and tied herself to the net before she was removed from the court but not without reaching a huge audience.

Sit-in

The same group also staged a "sit-in" on the major ring road around Paris last Saturday to coincide with the massive departure of many people on holidays.

"It's an extremely strong symbol to sit down on the asphalt of a road," Paul told reporters from France Info.

"We are unarmed; we only have our bodies to give."

"I don't want to regret that I didn't do anything to stop the climate catastrophe," agrees Julien.

Using international sporting events as platforms for environmental activists to share protest messages is gaining traction.

Some estimates say the Tour de France, over the 21 stages, reaches up to 3.5 billion viewers across the 190 countries in which it is broadcast, more if social media views are included.

With this kind of audience in mind, climate activists from the group "Just Stop Oil" garnered a great deal of publicity at the British Grand Prix Silverstone circuit in July.

The group, which calls for the cessation of the exploitation of fossil fuels in the UK, had demanded the government "immediately put an end to new oil and gas projects" and warned "they would continue to disrupt sporting and cultural events (...) until this request is met".

Destroying the future

During the Liège-Bastogne-Liège cycling classic, on 24 April, a young man was invited to the course very close to the finish, just before the arrival of the winner of the race, the Belgian Remco Evenepoel.

The protester wore a tee-shirt that read "Climate Justice Now".

Earlier in the season, on 3 April, an activist from the Extinction Rebellion briefly disrupted the Tour of Flanders. These same activists then clung to a goal during the final of the Belgian Football Cup on April 18, this time with the message "Won't our children die from the climate crisis?"

In England, several football matches have also been disrupted.

On 18 March, Louis McKechnie, also involved in the action during the British GP, interrupted the Everton-Newcastle match by tying himself by the neck to a post.

"Our government is knowingly destroying my future and condemning billions of people around the world to death," he said.

(with wires)

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