Young global voices/France: We need a more direct democracy!

Climate demonstration

Filed by Elsa Regnier. “Listen to scientists and all kinds of experts in natural science and economics. Act and let us express ourselves!”

Vipulan Oyvaneswaran (17) lives in Paris, and has been a visible climate activist in several media outlets. He has been part of the Youth for Climate Paris-Ile-de-France (YFC), which emerged in a social climate where the Yellow Vest Movement (YVM) was already five months old. Even though the Yellow Vests is composed mainly by workers, while the climate youth activists mainly come from the upper middle class, an increasing part of the youth at the time (autumn 2019) saw their struggles as somehow connected, and some of them joined the Yellow Vest marches.

Vipulan has been much concerned with the importance of the scientific reports. He follows France’s most famous climate scientist, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, who will take a main responsibility for the next IPCC report, and also accesses several climate websites. During the interview, he talked about a recent study, which stated that the Earth’s temperature could rise up to 7 degrees by 2100 in the event of continuous economic growth.  Thus, he has been eager to emphasize the link between the climate and the economy: “…we are more and more informed, sensitized and we become more radical. ‘Radical’ means to deal witht the root causes of the problem, it is not the same as extremism, he states. “Today, the term is negative, it shouldn’t be. In France, we have the particularity of being way more radical than the other movements: we undertake acts of civil disobedience and we define ourselves as anti-capitalist”. He is eager to underline that his movement does not receive funds from the state or big corporations: “We don’t need this kind of money. …Greenpeace has millions of euros and do not have more influence, more impact than us.”

He is critical of the media coverage of climate action: “When there are massive climate marches, they mention it, but they don’t talk about the substance. They totally distort our demands. They say ‘look how nice it is, young people are in the street for the environment’, but what we are asking is a radical change of society. … I have almost never seen a media outlet talking about the link between the economic system and the environment, between capitalism and the extinction of living species”.

When it comes to solutions to the climate crisis, he proposes mass reforestation, and the suspension of free-trade agreements. He added that although a large number of people were in favour of a ban on domestic flights, such a law has been refused by the State because it would damage economic growth. He sees politicians as the greatest obstacle to climate mitigation, not least the right and the extreme right fringe of the political spectrum, who are opposed to any mitigation. “We need a more direct democracy. Today we are in a kind of oligarchy: we vote for people who do not respect the programme on which they were elected. They decide for us. “