At the moment, ministers from countries all around the world are attending a meeting in Paris to discuss a new agreement on climate change. The aims of the agreement are to combat the further warming up and pollution of the Earth. The agreements should ensure that the average temperature does not rise more than two degrees. Earlier agreements and climate conferences could not, however, stop global warming. On 11 December, the results of meetings lasting several days should be known, but few believe that the deadline will actually be met. EM spoke to students about their worries about the future of the Earth. What are they doing about sustainability and what green objectives do they have?
Robert de Koning, 20-year-old student of Economics & Business Administration
“I’ve seen a lot of news items about climate change on TV, but I’m not really worried about the future of our planet. I could get worked up about it, but I know there’s not much I can do to change things. ‘A better world begins with you and me’, but I think real changes need to be made by governments. At home we separate our waste and, although I have a car, I always go by bike to the underground station and take the train from there to the university. Cycling the whole way would not be feasible for me – that would take about an hour and a half.”
My climate objective: to make more use of the bike instead of the car.
Kathy & Miranda, employees of Global Market 'De Étude'
“By that time I’ll be long gone”, is what Kathy often thinks when these kinds of major problems are involved. “I often wonder if we are really responsible for it. The Earth is turning, so we are getting warmer and warmer and the people in hotter countries are getting colder and colder.” Miranda says that she does think about this: “I try to throw fewer things away, separate my waste and I only have energy-saving light bulbs at home. I also turn down the heating sooner and in nice weather I go to work on my bike. I’m actually far more sustainable than I thought!” According to Kathy, she lives just around the corner from the university, but still uses the car. That is because it’s so easy, but she does come to work on her bike sometimes. “I think about the future and regularly tell my daughter that a better environment begins with you and me”, says Miranda. That is something the ladies do agree about and Kathy gets some help from ‘Toon’, a smart thermostat that decides for itself when the heating can be turned down.
Our climate objective: to throw away less food.
Xiao Shuang, 24-year-old student of International Business & Economics from China
“I really do worry about global warming. A lot is being done in the Netherlands to create a better environment. That’s logical, because otherwise half of the Netherlands would be beneath sea level. In the city where I was born in China it is extremely hot in the summer. The people there blame it on global warming, because at one time the seasons were not so extreme. In China many people are experiencing the consequences of environmental pollution. We are far behind in comparison to the Netherlands. But times are changing, because people do not want this any longer. Factories are becoming cleaner and the use of bicycles is being promoted. I’m very much against waste, but when it comes to water I make an exception, funnily enough. It’s very bad, but I can stand under the shower for twenty minutes. I now realise I can’t do this any longer.”
My climate objective: a little less time under the shower.
Would you like to make your lifestyle more sustainable and combat global warming on our planet? There are many campaigns that should ensure that we change our lifestyle. The campaign by the Dutch public broadcasters, NPO Groen, shows, with a few simple examples, how you can make a big difference by making just a few small changes. Taking the stairs, not asking for plastic bags at the checkout and drinking tap water. Every little bit helps. You can also find more information and tips on the website of Milieu Centraal, the government’s information organisation.