It is in the interest of everyone, including the business world, to be committed to the environment, according to “Alumni for the Planet”, a unique collective launched in France on Thursday (12 November) that aims to gather French graduates in the fight against climate change. EURACTIV France reports.
Who says that networking only serves special interests? Contrary to the numerous alumni associations throughout France, the network launched on Thursday entitled Alumni for the Planet does not bring together former students from the same school – [‘alumni‘ in Latin] – but higher education graduates driven by the same goal: the fight against climate change.
“The ecological transition must mobilise everyone and the business world in particular. Many alumni are in positions of responsibility. It is on this premise that ‘Alumni for the planet’ was launched,” Michel Salem-Sermanet, former Ecole Polytechnique student and one of the twenty founding members of the collective, told EURACTIV France in an interview.
Networking for the climate
In order to reach as many alumni as possible, Alumni for the Planet works closely with some forty alumni associations. The aim is to target graduates who are sensitive to environmental issues and help them take action for the planet.
“Our collective will enable us to put employees from the same company, or working in the same city, in contact with each other. They will thus be able to launch concrete actions to promote an ecological transition,” said Salem-Sermanet.
On its website, Alumni for the Planet presents information on current climate issues, including examples of good practices such as greening cities, setting up shared composts, reducing energy consumption, financing soft mobility, calculating the carbon footprint of one’s company, etc.
These initiatives, to be implemented at home, in one’s city and especially in one’s workplace, are part of the commitments made by the 175 alumni who signed up when the collective was launched on Thursday.
Alongside leading environmental figures – such as climatologist and co-president of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Valérie Masson-Delmote, Salem-Sermanet stressed his desire to make Alumni for the Planet an ambitious network “of several hundred thousand people, so why not on an international scale”.
Large firms still pollute a great deal
Though France has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050, companies continue to have a disastrous environmental record.
France’s 40 biggest companies “directly and indirectly emitted about 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2019,” according to the report “True balance sheet of the CAC 40“, published on 5 November by the Observatory of Multinationals. By comparison, this represents 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to emissions of a country like Russia.
Although not all companies have the same environmental impact, companies as a whole need to – depending on their scale – “embark on the path of green transition”, said the former Ecole Polytechnique student.
Yet, Salem-Sermanet, who acknowledges that “external constraints” will certainly be necessary to get the most stubborn companies to move towards the green transition, remains optimistic: “Awareness is undeniably increasing. It’s in everyone’s interest to make a commitment to the environment. Companies too,” he said.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]