Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 18th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> The Climate Justice Ambassador Felix Finkbeiner
【The Guardian Angel of Mother Earth】

I pray that the Earth will remain beautiful and full of life forever.
I pray that every kid can look at the future and see hope.
I am here to ask everyone to plant trees, because it is now or never.
Roll up your sleeves and put on your rubber boots. Let's plant trees to make Earth breathe!
—Felix Finkbeiner


Learning from Wangari Maathai

Felix Finkbeiner was born on Oct. 8, 1997 in Munich. At nine, he saw the environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth by former US Vice President Al Gore, which led him to commit himself to protecting the future of children around the world.
Inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, Felix decided to take action. He stood on the stage of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), calling for children and adolescents around the world to join hands together. Every year, he appears in climate summits to talk about the importance of planting trees.
With the support of fellow friends, Felix founded Plant-for-the-Planet in 2010. The name of the foundation is derived from a children’s project drafted in 2003 by UNEP. Plant-for-the-Planet seeks to combine the efforts of pupils worldwide to plant one million trees in every country. For Germany, this goal was swiftly achieved in 2010.

Plant trees to save the Earth—the Billion Tree Campaign

Felix’s mandate is supported by UNEP. On Dec. 7, 2011, COP17 of UNFCCC was held in Durban, South Africa. During the conference, the tasks of the Billion Tree Campaign were officially handed over to Plant-for-the-Planet. So far, as many as 12.9 billion trees have been planted across the world.
Felix Finkbeiner continues the work of Wangari Maathai by standing out and reminding children everywhere of the importance of climate justice. His unwavering spirit does justice to the title “The Guardian Angel of Mother Earth.” He is a fitting awardee of the Chou Ta-Kuan Foundation’s 17th Annual Global Love of Life Award.

Put on your rubber boots and start planting trees

Felix is quite an independent child. He asked his parents to let him enroll in the Munich International School in Augsburg. To go to school, he needs to take the train, the bus, and the tramway every day—a four-hour ride one way. His father being an activist in social movement, Felix shares the same devotion in exploring issues relevant to our daily life.
In 2007, the debate on global warming erupted. Felix’s school teacher asked everyone to understand more about the topic. The then nine-year-old immediately volunteered to make a series of presentations on global warming.

An Inconvenient Truth

Within the next two days, he asked every fellow classmate to watch An Inconvenient Truth with him. Together, they looked up the Internet and found out about the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions by vehicles and factories—global warming, melting glaciers, rise in sea levels, to name just a few. What Felix couldn’t understand was this: the adults talk about the issues a lot, but not many are doing what they can to solve the problem.
It was Kenya’s Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai that taught Felix that an individual has what it takes to be a force for change. Wangari Maathai combined the efforts of many African people to plant trees and fight against the selfish elites responsible for cutting down rainforests and building factories. Her relentless endeavors have resulted in the planting of 30 million trees over a thirty-year period.

Call for action—plant one million trees per country

In every presentation, Felix explains clearly the correlations between global warming, carbon emissions, and rises in temperature. His efforts led his classmates to realize that there is one thing they could do immediately—plant a tree. At the end of the presentation, Felix shouted with passion, “Let's plant millions of trees worldwide, a million in each country of the world.” His appeal met with equally enthusiastic responses. On March 28, 2007, they planted their first tree within school grounds.
Invited by the teacher, Felix gave a number of speeches in front of other teachers and students. A week after, the school principal arranged a speech tour to others schools for Felix. In November, 2011, Felix was invited to give a formal speech in the rotary club of Weilheim city, fifty kilometers away from home. After the speech, the CEO of Toyota Germany immediately invited him to give another speech, which was delivered in front of 1,200 car makers on December 6, 2007. On April 23, 2008, Felix and his friends announced in a press conference in Munich Literature House that they have had 50,000 trees planted. Their endeavor to safeguard their future has drawn the attention of the public.

Inviting everyone to battle climate crisis

In June, 2008, the ten-year-old went to Norway alone to give a talk on climate justice on the summit of UNEP in front of 700 children from 105 countries. Soon after the speech, he was elected to the UNEP children’s board during the International UNEP Children’s Conference in Norway. He was tasked with raising climate awareness and reducing wealth disparity.
In August, 2009, Felix gave an English speech at the 2009 Tunza International Children's Conference on the Environment in South Korea. He asked 800 children and adolescents to demand for action on climate change at the Copenhagen meeting. This is the official start of an international tree planting movement.

The founding of Plant-for-the-Planet

Plant-for-the-Planet was established on January 31, 2010. On May 4, 2010, Felix and his fellow colleagues—environmental ministers from Denmark, Germany, Canada, Mexico, and Turkey—reached the goal of planting a million trees in Germany. It is hoped that Felix can voice the concern of children’s future in the COP 16 and other Conference of the Parties to come.
Now, over 2,000 children representative from 70 countries have become climate justice ambassadors. Their mission is to talk about environmental issues wherever they go in order to safeguard the future of the Earth.
Adult delegates at the UN praised Felix and other children like him, dubbing them “diplomats in rubber boots.”

Everyone can become a climate justice ambassador

Plant-for-the-Planet uses the Internet as a platform for young people and children from around the world to connect, participate in event planning, and learn about climate justice. Precious moments of tree planting events held in different countries can be shared on the website. Any proactive participant is a climate justice ambassador.
As children learn more about the background knowledge of climate change, they are more willing to share what they know with friends. Felix would like everyone to make a commitment: start by planting a tree. From there, the Earth can be changed for good.

There is only one Earth for us to safeguard

 
Climate crisis threatens our Earth, and human beings are the cause of it.
If we do nothing, disaster will come.
We have done something about it, but to ward off disaster, it is still far from enough.
—Felix Finkbeiner
 
Climate is commonly defined by the average temperature and average rainfall over a thirty-year period in addition to other weather conditions considered. Since the last ice age, average temperature in the last 11,000 years rose 4°C. However, in merely a hundred years, average temperature of the Earth rose 0.74°C Celsius, while sea levels rose rapidly by 15 centimeters.
Since 2008, numerous international organizations including the UN have set a limit of 2°C average temperature rise as the threshold figure. It is feared that if average Earth temperature rise exceeds the 2°C figure observed during the 18th century’s Industrial Revolution, a climate destabilization would ensue, leading to faster temperature rise. If the increase reaches by 6°C, human civilization will be no more.

Energy conservation is everyone’s responsibility

What causes the Earth’s average temperature to rise continually? It is because of the excessive carbon dioxide and methane contained in our atmosphere. In ancient times, these two gases ensured that the Earth remain warm by keeping the heat from the sun on the Earth’s surface. Carbon dioxide, methane, and greenhouse gas formed by water vapor absorb the heat reflected by the sun to maintain a habitable 15°C. Without these gases, the Earth’s average temperature could be as low as -18°C.
After the Industrial Revolution, the development of heavy industry and petrochemical industry brought convenience to humans at the expense of Nature’s resources. Oil and coals that had existed for millions of years in forest swamps or undersea zones were exhausted in mere decades.
Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Though rare and accounts for only 1/400 of the carbon dioxide existing in the atmosphere, methane is produced by domestic livestock such as cattle during their normal digestive process. Research points out that the typical grass-fed cow produces 250 to 600 liters of methane per day.

Save the Earth by planting trees

Photosynthesis is the most natural and the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions. Through this process, plants turn carbon dioxide into solids and store them in trunks, roots and branches. As long as the wood is not burnt or cut down, the stored carbon will not be released as greenhouse gas.
A third of Germany is covered in forests. If the carbon stored in the forests is converted into carbon dioxide, it would amount to 44 billion tons.

Trees are our allies in the fight against global warming

Trees are more than our allies in the fight against global warming; they benefit our surroundings immensely.
Trees are able to cool the environment and to make the air more humid. Through inhaling and exhaling, trees maintain a humid, cool climate, one that is vastly more comfortable than a dry, hot climate.
Cities become unbearably hot because of all the buildings and the streets. Sidewalk trees and small parks become the key to turning the “city climate” into a more habitable one.
Another contribution that trees make is that they filter 80% of the dusts and motes in the city. Cutting down trees to build parking lots is similar to damaging the citizens’ lungs.
Every tree on Earth, no matter its size, absorbs carbon dioxide to the benefit of us all. Let us work together to improve the city’s air quality. We can all start by planting a tree.