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France Uses 'Climate Train' to Raise Awareness

  • Lisa Bryant

French Environment Minister Segolene Royal and Junior Minister for State Reform Thierry Mandon attend the inauguration of the "train du climat" (climate train) in Paris, Oct. 6, 2015.

French Environment Minister Segolene Royal and Junior Minister for State Reform Thierry Mandon attend the inauguration of the "train du climat" (climate train) in Paris, Oct. 6, 2015.

A train is chugging its way across France this month to raise awareness about climate change and what is at stake during December's climate summit in Paris.

The climate train got a high-level sendoff Tuesday at Paris' Gare de Lyon station that included champagne and speeches by Environment Minister Segolene Royal and other officials.

Those invited wandered through rail cars displaying maps and interactive images of how a warming climate will change our planet — and how it already has made changes.

High school student Anne-Marie Coelho visited the train with her father. She attended this week's event, she said, to learn more about sustainable development and climate change.

Climatologist Pascale Braconnot is among the "climate messengers" aboard the train, explaining climate change to the public during the three-week voyage to 19 cities and towns.

"People are really thinking about it, even if some people don't want to think about it," he said. "And that's why we have this train. … We have solutions that experts know … but this can only happen if people are concerned about it."

The train is part of a series of events France's government is planning ahead of December's climate conference. In July, lawmakers adopted a measure that aims to slash polluting emissions and energy consumption.

Not everybody supports it. Train workers staged a small protest outside the station.

Gilbert Garrel, general secretary of the CGT train workers union, criticized the government's energy policy as insufficient and called the train a publicity stunt.

So along with spreading awareness, the climate train may face some tough stops ahead.

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