Today I had the pleasure to speak to the next generation. They were around 20 elementary school students from California and we had a skype conversation about COP21. I am in Paris and could proudly tell them that in this city, two days ago, world leaders agreed to make their best to leave this planet a better place for them, their children and grandchildren.
The kids were curious. They asked me what countries agreed on, if every single country agreed, and what the solutions are to really keep us below 2°C warming. I told them that there are many things that countries, companies and citizens can do, like using renewable energy and stopping deforestation. I mentioned a list of things, hoping to show that it is not one single action nor one single actor that will make change, but that every action by every sector is important. At the end of the day, it is about being aware of how we relate to the environment and behave so as to reduce our joint emission footprint.
They shared the concern that companies would lie about their actions, just as Volkswagen did. Amazingly to me, they had all the details on the story and were aware that not everything companies report reflects what they actually do. The kids are right, and this is where citizenship and civil society turn into key players for making the climate agreement a reality to them, the generation of the future.
I asked for their ideas on what we could do to be part of the solution and in reply they shared brilliant thoughts…. they said we should make electric cars cheaper and take care of the garbage that is in the ocean. Most importantly, we should do something about the wrong order of things. It seems, said one girl, that the world is upside down, with money rulling it all. Wouldn’t it be better and easier, she asked, if people just traded what they need and gave what they don’t need to those that do need? Her thoughts were expressed in the most simple, clear and wise way. She got to the essence of the problem – it is all about changing our development model and distribution of resources. Yet, her question I could not answer. All that I could say was that I hope, as I sincerely do, that the world can turn itself back to the path that makes sense. And maybe, hopefully, the climate agreement can help us on this path.