Visit to Paris

I mentioned in my last blog that I would be attending a major climate change summit for local leaders.

The conference in Paris had representatives from many different countries and was a great opportunity to discover new approaches to reducing carbon emissions. Our invitation came from Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and from Mike Bloomberg, the former Mayor of New York City and the inspiration behind Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The summit was last week and we are currently reflecting on the ways that Kirklees can adopt a range of ideas and deliver environmental benefits across the local community. I’ll report back soon with further details, but in the meantime – and considering the tragic events that happened in Paris very recently – I’d like to share the moving experience of my brief visit to the French capital.

“The November 13 terror attacks are still fresh in all our minds and I was inspired by the solidarity shown by cities from around the world. It was also very poignant to witness the demonstration of resilience and grief shown by the people of Paris.”

I visited the Place de la Republique and the Bataclan Theatre, where local residents and visitors from all parts of the globe have made their feelings known. The personal tributes to victims – with photographs and personal items including shoes, scarves and photographs – brought home the young ages of many victims and the massive waste of life. Calls for peace and anti-war sentiments are prevalent, but these are not outpourings of hatred or calls for revenge. They emphasise solidarity in the face of horror.

I was also personally moved by the comments made by victims’ friends and loved ones, with one tribute emphasising to me the “normality” of the victims – the fact they were just regular people going about their regular business on what should have been a regular night. The photograph and tribute were to a biker from a Paris Chapter of the Harley Davidson club, who looked just like many of my friends. Even on the busy street outside the Bataclan there is a strange stillness, the traffic all slowing down as people show respect tinged with an immense feeling of disbelief.

I didn’t feel it right to take photographs of the tributes, but I will always remember them. The picture below is taken from a website which lists tributes to all those people who so tragically lost their lives.

Leaders blog

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