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CLIMATE CRISIS

Climate activists pour paint on Charles Ray sculpture in Paris

Environmental activists on Friday dumped orange paint over an outdoor sculpture by the American artist Charles Ray in central Paris, the latest in a string of artwork defacements aimed at spurring greater government efforts to fight climate change.

Climate activists pour paint on Charles Ray sculpture in Paris
Workers clean up the 'Horse and Rider' statue by the artist Charles Ray, after climate activists threw paint on it (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

The lifesize “Horse and Rider” stands in front of the Bourse de Commerce contemporary art museum, which houses part of the collection of French fashion billionaire Francois Pinault.

The action was claimed by Derniere Renovation (“Last Renewal”), which showed two activists kneeling and holding hands in front of the doused sculpture on its website.

They had also put a white T-shift over the rider with the phrase “We have 858 days left”, apparently a reference to studies that say carbon emissions must peak by 2025 if the planet is to have a viable future.

“Eco-vandalism is taken up a notch,” Culture Minister Rima Abdel Malak, who visited the site as workers cleaned up the paint, wrote on Twitter.

“Art and ecology are not incompatible. It’s the opposite, they are common causes,” she said.

The incident came as climate activists targeted an Andy Warhol work in Milan on Friday, covering a car repainted by the American pop artist with flour — two weeks after the same group threw pea soup at a Van Gogh painting in Rome.

Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in The Hague and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in London have also been targeted, drawing widespread condemnation from officials.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

France destroys seaside flats threatened by coastal erosion

French authorities on Friday started demolishing a seaside block of flats that has come to symbolise the country's battle against climate change-linked coastal erosion.

France destroys seaside flats threatened by coastal erosion

When the four-storey building was built behind the beach in the southwestern Gironde region in 1967, it stood 200 metres away from the shoreline.

But its 75 or so flats in the town of Soulac-sur-Mer had to be evacuated in 2014 after the sea crept up to within 20 metres of the structure.

Local authorities scrambled to rid the building of asbestos in the following years, before a huge mechanical digger took a swing at its facade on Friday, as several former residents looked on.

“It’s the memories of four generations” that are being destroyed, said 76-year-old Vincent Duprat, one of the home owners.

The sea “has taken back what is rightfully hers”.

MAP The French towns at urgent risk from coastal erosion

Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said the demolition was a sign of “what the rising waters and coastal erosion have is store for lots of other areas along the French coastline”.

By 2100, 20 percent of the coastline and up to 50,000 homes would be affected, he said.

Erosion is a natural phenomenon that has helped shape our continents over millennia.

But scientists say it is being accelerated by the warming of the planet, exacerbated by rising sea levels brought about by melting ice caps and glaciers, and by the more powerful waves that warmer oceans hold.

The sandy beaches of the Bay of Biscay between France and Spain are expected to recede by 50 metres by 2050, the Observatory of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Coastline says.

But climate change and rising sea levels could increase this by an extra 20 metres in some areas, the Observatory’s Nicolas Bernon said.

In 2020, after a seven-year legal battle, a court ruled that French authorities should compensate families who had been forced to evacuate the building in Soulac-sur-Mer to the tune of 70 percent of the original value of their homes.

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