Why French ministers prefer criminalising green protests to tackling the climate crisis

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After environmentalists protested over plans by farmers in western France to build a large irrigation reservoir, interior minister Gérald Darmanin likened some of the demonstrators to “ecoterrorists”. In doing so, say Mathieu Dejean and Fabien Escalona in this op-ed article, the minister was spouting paranoid fantasies while ignoring warnings about whether the planet can remain habitable. At the same time, they write, the country's main green party – which should be setting the political agenda - remains bogged down in internal squabbles.

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On Saturday October 29th thousands of people marched across a field at Sainte-Soline as they sought to avoid the blockades of the police and gendarmes who were there in huge number. Their aim: to demand a halt to plans for a 'mega reservoir' that farmers in this corner of western France will use to irrigate their crops.