The environmental activist Greta Thunberg marched in Bordeaux on Sunday in a procession of several thousand demonstrators calling for a halt to a project of eight new oil drilling near Arcachon (Gironde), while hydrocarbon exploitation must gradually stop in France by 2040.
“Fed up with oil” or “And what else?” », We could read on the signs of activists gathered at the call of the Stop Pétrole Bassin d’Arcachon collective, which claimed 3,000 demonstrators – 1,200 according to the prefecture.
Environmental “bad signal”
“The exit from fossil fuels must begin now by refusing this project,” demanded Natalie Hervé, spokesperson for the collective, describing these drillings as a “bad signal” for France’s environmental ambitions.
Greta Thunberg, activist in the fight against global warming, stopped off in Bordeaux the day after a trip to the south of France to support opponents of the A69 Toulouse-Castres motorway project.
The young Swedish woman, Palestinian keffiyeh and pink raincoat, did not speak on Sunday. But she danced and chanted slogans in French and English against the oil industry.
These new drillings near Arcachon are desired by the Canadian group Vermilion Energy, holder until January 1, 2035 of a concession operated since the 1960s in the commune of Teste-de-Buch, whose forest had been ravaged by the monster fires of summer 2022.
Around fifty wells there currently produce around 1,500 barrels/day. After a month of public inquiry, the investigating commissioner issued a favorable opinion.
The investigation is now being carried out by the Regional Directorate for the Environment, Planning and Housing (Dreal) and the project will then be submitted to a departmental committee responsible for giving an opinion in the spring.
Then it will be up to the prefect of Gironde to decide. In the event of authorization, the opponents suggest that they will refer the matter to the administrative court.
“These oil wells would be an aberration in a country like France. We don’t need it,” said Marie Toussainthead of the Europe Écologie-Les Verts list in the next European elections, present in Bordeaux.
In 2017, the government voted for a gradual cessation of hydrocarbon exploitation by 2040.
At the beginning of December, the Minister of Ecological Transition Christophe Béchu had judged that, as long as France needed oil, it was “no worse for it to come from here than to have it come from the end of the world”.