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French teens demand urgent action to save environment

More and more French teenagers are demanding urgent action on climate change and better protection for biodiversity – and they say that soon it will be too late.

One example is Victor Noël, 14, who initiated a march in Metz earlier this year which united more than 1,500 people and 79 environmental organisations.

He joins Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and thousands of other students who have been striking from school for the climate on Fridays and are demanding a change in politics for the sake of the planet.

Student protests have been taking place across Europe all this year. The last international one was on May 24 in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and most big cities.

Lola Wainwright, 14, born in Brighton in the UK but raised in France, made a speech to fellow pupils at her school in Marciac in the Gers.

She told Connexion: “The previous generations were not necessarily aware of the consequences of their actions, but those consequences have already started appearing with the rise of temperature.”

Even so, she said her mother has encouraged her to live greener. Lola’s suggestions for how to live in a greener way include dry toilets, composting, using glass bottles instead of plastic, and making your own soap. Although everyone can act on a small scale, the young activists want to see stricter rules for global firms which pollute. 

Victor, who was invited with former envi­ron­ment minister Nicolas Hulot on to the France 5 TV programme C à vous, said changes must be made now. “When I’m old enough to be a minister, it will be too late.”

Victor is home-schooled in Rombas (Moselle) and spends hours every day observing nature from a shed in his garden which borders a forest. He plans to become a wildlife photographer and is a member of LPO and Sea Shepherd. He runs Le Blog de Victor, where he posts photos, videos, and articles about the environment.

In his videos, he explains how climate change and biodiversity are related.  

He said: “Biodiversity is you, me, the butterfly, the carrot, the fox… If we don’t protect it, life conditions for humans will be greatly disrupted.” He thinks humans have a responsibility for the life of other species and should respect them.

Roughly one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction due to human activity, according to a new United Nations report, which it says would be the first mass extinction since humans evolved.

Victor says, citing science journal PLOS One and the UN, that he finds it especially worrying that “80% of flying insects have disappeared in Europe in the last 30 years” and “in 40 years, fish could disappear from the oceans”. “Destructive behaviour” such as hunting, deforestation and pesticide use should be made illegal, he says.

He wrote to President Macron on behalf of La Marche pour le Biodiversité in March, saying our whole economic model needs to change, but says he has not had a response.

He is now asking people to show the letter (tinyurl.com/y65myy9t) to elected politicians, such as local councillors.

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