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Paris France Climate change Paris Climate Conference 2015 Ségolène Royal

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This train will chug along in France to raise climate change awareness

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Ségolène Royal, France's minister of ecology, at the Lyon Station in Paris to see off the Climate Train Trains Expo SNCF

A special freight train set off on Tuesday 6th October from the Lyon train station in Paris. It will stop in 19 towns or cities in France throughout October.


Its first stop is Clermont Ferrand in the volcanic Auvergne region, and its last will be in Nancy in the east of France, near the Vosges mountains, via Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse in the south as well as several stops on the Atlantic coast, the Channel or just inland. The aim is to give local people outside of Paris a chance to discuss climate change.

The French Ecology minister Ségolène Royal was at the Lyon Station in Paris to see off the Climate Train and its scientists on their almost 7000 kilometre journey around France.

Like the junior secretary for higher education and research, also attending the send-off, she praised their work and underlined its value given the climate-change challenge. “France has the scientific research, the technology and a vibrant capacity for passing on its knowledge,” she said.

Christophe Cassou, one of the scientists who thought up this project, is among the Climate Messengers as they are called, travelling with the Climate Train.

He, like other Climate Messengers, has contributed to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), one of the main international scientific bodies working on climate change, which compiles reports for the authorities who belong to the United Nations to use as a scientific basis for decision-making.

Cassou says, “It’s public service, to bring our findings on climate change to the citizens. Fourteen national institutes are represented on the Climate Train. All French research fields are represented. They work in a wide range of fields, and the 45 messengers have different expertise, from fundamental science like physics or chemistry, to the economy of climate change.”

Inside, the 350-metre-long converted freight train is a miniature interactive natural science museum. Here you can learn plenty about climate, meterology, and the causes and consequences of climate change.

Private-sector partners are, as well as the public-sector SNCF railway company, providing learning material, not least of all on energy-use and preservation of bio-diversity.

People of all ages are invited to learn more, and ask questions. There's even a 50-seater conference room for debates.

The French government, which is hosting the international conference in December in Paris, hopes that by the time the Climate Train comes to a final halt in Nancy on October 25th, many more French people will have an informed opinion about how climate change affects them, and the rest of the world.

While Royal, stressed the importance of the collective climate information train for France and French people, especially outside of Paris, she also said, “Citizens are hungry for knowledge and they have a right to access the best scientific knowledge… We have to banish the idea that technology will resolve the issue, and that we humans don’t have to do anything about it.”