A growing group of environmental activists are taking advantage of emergency power shut-off switches found on the exteriors of businesses throughout France; toting broomsticks, they wander the streets at night to find businesses with neon lights still blazing in the window despite being closed, and simply reach or climb up to switch the power off.[social_buttons]
They call themselves Le Clan du Néon and believe they are doing the planet a favor. Thousands of shops across Europe leave their lights on overnight, just as they do in America, unnecessarily eating up tens of gigawatt hours of power every year.
“If all the neon signs in the world were turned off, the impact on global warming would be very significant,” said one member of the group. “There ought to be a law against it, but since there isn’t, we have to go around doing it ourselves.”
In France, about 80 percent of electricity is generated by nuclear plants, so the night-time neon lights increase nuclear waste more than CO2 emissions.
After starting as a student-group in Paris, others have popped up in Normandy, Bordeaux, the Alps and Dordogne. The group also encourages people in other countries to develop similar renegade tactics to fight global warming.
“The signs are a waste of electricity and a visual pollution,” said Michael, another activist. “It’s crazy that when we all need to save energy, these neon signs are left on for 24 hours day.”