Youth Council for the Climate: “It will all depend on the framework and the proposed perimeter”

This Friday, candidate Macron pledged to give youth a role in political institutions. Cassandra Windey, an ENS student who pushed for, explains how this idea emerged.

Will proclimat youth be consulted by Emmanuel Macron if he is re-elected? The candidate, who seeks to give a boost to ecologists during the in-between rounds, said this Friday on France Info that he wanted to create a youth council for the climate, “a forum that brings together all the committed, NGOs, youth associations” as well as experts. The goal ? “Doing the policy evaluation” climatic. The promise had been made in the corridors of COP 26, in Glasgow, to delegations of young people. Among them, Cassandra Windey, a student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) who spoke to the President live this morning to remind him of his commitment. She tells the backstage of this idea to Release and remains vigilant as to the implementation of this project.

How did you manage to suggest the idea of ​​a youth council to Emmanuel Macron during COP26?

It’s a coincidence. Last November, I was part of the ENS delegation of seven students interested in environmental issues, sent to COP26. On the second day, we met the French delegation in a hallway and proposed a meeting with Emmanuel Macron to talk about his results and his climate policy. The delegation responded positively. In the afternoon, they invited us to a press conference transformed into a discussion with young people. In the meantime, we have mobilized other young French people on the spot: people from the polytechnic institute of Grenoble, representatives of the association of young climate ambassadors… During the interview, we underlined that it would be good if this type of discussion did not take place only during a combination of circumstances. We wanted something more institutionalized via a youth council, like what the UN Secretary General is already doing.

What was the reaction?

The reception of the proposal was very fresh. At the beginning, it was a bit of an end of inadmissibility. But after an hour, the position changed. Emmanuel Macron is committed “eye to eye”, as he said, to establish this council. There was no specific form mentioned. Several journalists were present but his promise was not relayed at all. It is nevertheless a tangible idea, even if it will be necessary to discuss the modalities. It was a way to challenge him on the fact that young people do not feel very represented. A section of young people who are in favor of more ambitious climate justice but consider government measures clearly insufficient.

Have you tried to revive the idea until today?

Yes. During the campaign, it was time to remember this commitment. We wanted to do this via an open letter which ultimately did not come to fruition. The people present at the COP were ready to join the call, as well as people from Mines de Paris, associations such as CliMates, Déclic, Together for earth, Sciences Po Environnement. My speech this morning was personal, I was having my coffee, Emmanuel Macron was on France Info, I thought it would be good to call. I don’t know if the idea was really in the candidate’s boxes or if he seized the opportunity, but I wanted to obtain a commitment that would be relayed this time. We have to remain vigilant but at the point where we are, any relay is good to take. The next mandate ends in 2027, that’s three years before 2030, the date by which we must have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. You have to put in triple bites.

Emmanuel Macron said he would give more details on Saturday on the form this advice would take. How do you see things?

In my opinion, it would be relevant to have a body with a monitoring and vigilance role on expectations and on what is not done. Education on environmental issues in schools, for example, is a big demand. But everything will depend on the framework and scope proposed by the government. Having a round table three times with twenty people or institutionalizing a permanent council with 150 people is not of the same ilk. I think we could imagine something piloted by the High Council for the Climate, the CESE or the National Commission for Public Debate. But how can you be sure that it won’t be short-circuited and emptied of its meaning? The Citizen’s Convention for the Climate was a wonderful democratic experience and it was clear that the proposals had been unraveled.

Emmanuel Macron also seems to want to mix young people with NGOs and experts. What do you think ?

If it’s just for a young surety, it’s not interesting. In terms of mix of expertise, there are already bodies in charge of evaluating government policies, we must not duplicate them. It is important to have people committed to the subject, who have expertise and master the issues, but in my opinion the idea is relevant if it is aimed at young people. There are young experts on all subjects, including in NGOs. The council could for example be made up of young people involved and others drawn by lot for a contradictory debate. Young people must feel listened to and concerned because it is also our future that is at stake.

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