On climate change, we want to push the youth voice throughout the world
2019 ECOSOC Youth Forum
Statement by Mr. Gabriel Attal, Minister of State, attached to the Minister of National Education and Youth
Parallel sessions on « People, Prosperity, Planet and Peaceful Societies”
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
8 April 2019
Indeed, I am the youngest Minister in the Government and actually in the French 5th Republic history, which is quite something to bear. It is not my choice; it is the President’s choice. And it was very interesting to live that while young people were marching for climate. I had many questions in my head: “this is my generation, I agree with them but I’m in charge of education and they are skipping school, so should I go with them?” It was difficult, and I decided to go. Actually, the President allowed me to go because he believes that young people have to be heard and have to take part in this fight throughout the world. And President Macron was the first leader in the world to greet and give an audience to Greta Thunberg and other young activists for climate throughout Europe. He really recognizes how young people have to be heard and have to take part in the decisions we are making.
So we initiated a lot of things to help them:
• First, we have a council of young people who can make proposals regarding these issues, so that to be heard nationally;
• Then we organized debates in all the high schools in France: we have 4,200 high schools in France and we organized debates in each of these high school at the same time to let the young people do some proposals regarding the global climate change issue; as well as some proposals about how their school is sustainable or not. Because it is important to let young people act on a local level. It is important to show that young people have things to share, things to build with each other. So, for instance, “how my high school is sustainable in energy consumption, how is it sustainable in the products that are served in the cafeteria, etc…”
We also want to push the youth voice throughout the world and throughout France’s mobilization regarding climate change. The One Planet Summit was a big event and I think we should, and we are working on that, organize a youth climate summit in parallel of the One Planet Summit, just as we do with the Y7 for the G7 or the Y20 for the G20. We are working on this idea with the President.
You mentioned what is happening in the French society right now and I think it is a good example of what we are facing. Actually, the Yellow Vests are people who are not rejecting the fight against climate change, they are not rejecting environmental issues, they are just saying “we don’t want to be the only ones to make some efforts in Europe. We want to see that the efforts that the government is asking us” - because we are closing all our coal factories by 2022, we are banning plastic use in France by January 2020 (like cups or straws). So we are putting some huge efforts and also on taxation of fossil fuel - They say “ok, but the effort you ask us to make, do they have a real impact throughout the world?” – because we are France, we are not the whole world.
So what we are trying to do right now with President Macron is to engage a huge movement in the European Union, because this is the scale of effectiveness regarding climate change. So President Macron made some proposals:
• Zero carbon emission by 2050 in Europe
• We have to divide the use of pesticide by two by 2025
• Creating bank of investment for climate in Europe and to help countries who have maybe less capacities to invest in sustainable infrastructures
All of these proposals were made in a text published in the press and these proposals will be pushed throughout the European campaign that will take place in the coming months, in order to have a genuine and strong environmental policy throughout out Europe.
To sum it up, that’s what I wanted to say. Thank you very much for hearing me.