by Edouard Stenger
As Marguerite most kindly proposed me to write an article for her blog, here are a few lines on the French counterpart of the “We” and “Together” campaigns, which were discussed respectively here and here.
The “Défi pour la Terre“, or “Earth Challenge”, was launched in May 2005 by the famous French journalist, TV personality and environmentalist Nicolas Hulot. With his show Ushuaïa, he has been presenting the marvels of the Earth to French people for twenty years and increasingly stated that these wonders are threatened by mankind. The Nicolas Hulot Foundation was created as early as 1990 to enable people to discover nature and protect the environment by exploration, education and communication.
The “Défi pour la Terre” wasn’t the first communication campaign launched by the Foundation, but it has been the most fruitful as already more than 840,000 French people joined it and pledged to decrease their carbon dioxide emissions. Many celebrities also supported the “Defi“. Total actions by members would account for reduction of 420,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases emissions.
During last year’s presidential elections, he asked the twelve candidates to sign a pact stating that once they would be elected, they would act on environmental issues and climate change mitigation. It was a major success as the elected President, Mr. Sarkozy, included elements of this pact into his own plans. Indeed, the “Grenelle de l’Environnement“, the central part of environmental actions in France, included several parts of Hulot‘s plan.
Now, let’s review the “Défi pour la Terre” itself. As most things nowadays, the website is the central part of the Défi. People by logging to the website can access a lot of data on climate change and its mitigation. Visitors can also decide to act and are proposed ten possibilities. They can :
- Sort out their waste and avoid excessive packaging ;
- Prefer environmentally friendly products ;
- Switch off appliances instead of simply turning them off ;
- Choose energy efficient appliances and light bulbs ;
- Take a short shower instead of a bath ;
- Insulate and not over heat their houses and appartments ;
- Install a solar water heater or a wood boiler to heat their place ;
- Use less their cars ;
- Drive in an efficient way and lastly ;
- Choose the train when going on holidays.
As you can see, these actions cover the vast majority, if not the totality, of behaviors and lifestyles that can harm our environment.
Now let me be critical – a bit – and tell you what I think could be improved. After three years of existence, the Défi is getting old and would need a new start as the actions to be taken can’t be exactly accounted for, and are more relying on goodwill than on anything else. Indeed, CO2 cuts can’t actually be accounted for as no follow-up is done. Let’s hope improvements will come. Knowing how Nicolas Hulot has been working hard on raising awareness on the protection of the environment, I am confident such changes will occur…
Edouard has an international blog. If you want to follow what is happening on the environmental scene in Europe, go visit him at Sustainable Development and Much More . . .