Victor Carnahan is a 20-year-old climate activist. He is from a French mother and an American father and lives in Switzerland. We have been involved in a few projects together since we met in Lausanne at the summer meeting for climate activists in 2019 .
The most recent campaign I participated in was a #RogerWakeUpNow call to Roger Federer, the face of the bank, to protest Credit Suisse’s investment in fossil fuels. In our interview, Victor gives examples from Switzerland as well as France and America where he lived before.
Atlas: How did you get involved in the climate movement? (your story of how you began?
Victor: I had just moved to Switzerland and was becoming interested in my new community, when I met my now close friend Hamza. I’ve always had an interest in what happens in the world and I was looking to know more and help as many people as I could, he introduced me to the green movement in Vaud and I got hooked immediately. It became the FFF of Vaud not long after.
We tackled project after project all together as several well nit teams, planning protests and speaking with the government. We did what we could which started small and progressed bigger and bigger and now we deal with important international companies and affaires doing our part to protect our shared planet as well as our communities’ environment from destruction. We act in solidarity with the people of the world to protect each other and our precious nature.
‘We do our best’
How is the climate movement in Switzerland? What do you do in the movement?
In Switzerland we work on projects and our then above anything else. We do our best, volunteering what time we may have to which ever project or working group we chose. What I do is get contacts in the world, I put people in connection with each their and coordinate projects with others.
I do research and help with other people’s projects whenever they need it. I go go as far as I can because when I agree to help someone I treat their problems as my own problems.
What do you personally focus on for your activism?
My first project was the expansion of the movement around the world as well as getting the movement more coordinated by helping the international server we use. My most recent finished project was the media campaign about trying to get Roger Federer to join us in convincing his Credit Swiss benefactors to scale back and soon stop their investments into fossil fuels and anything environmentally harmful.
Instead investing that money into green technologies and socially beneficial sources, all of which have the potential to be just as profitable if not more. Now I’m working on a project that would limit the littering of cigarette butts in the canton of Vaud and would get them recycled into construction materials limiting many times over their polluting effect on the environment.
‘Poison, destruction and complicity’
What are the affects of climate crisis you feel in your country?
The effect of climate change in my countries of origin are that poison, destruction and complicity. Climate change and the environmental devastation that comes with it are poisoning us physically and culturally. Many are facing sickness and harm as a direct result of climate change and a ruined ecosystem.
Many all around the world, be it in the Middle East, America’s or in Europe, are becoming slaves to consumption and the desire to take advantage of others’ labor and resources as cheaply as possible. Some stop thinking about their impact on the world or their community, choosing comfort over what’s right.
‘Destruction of nature’s beauty’
The destruction of nature’s beauty in all its forms is another effect seen through the my countries. Beautiful places we love to visit and important places we rarely think about are torn down to make way concrete jungles and infrastructure that easily be made elsewhere. Somewhere less environmentally important and in a way less harmful to our decreasing nature.
An example in the Mormont hill here in Lausanne, Vaud. For centuries it was one of the most beautiful spots in all of Switzerland, it played host to rare species of flowers, plants and animals. Natives have been going there and enjoying it their entire lives and people visited it as much as they could for the astonishing views it provided.
Until a few years ago, when a company named Holcim moved in to mine lime stone at the expense of the hill and everything in it. They leveled a portion of the hill tearing it inside out for a stone that is common in that region. The expense of their mining to the people living around the hill are rumblings resembling earthquakes as well as its the terrible mechanical screams the machines make.
This keeps the environment from continuing despite its missing limb and what sucks beauty away from the hill. Holcim was presented with an alternative, a barren hill capable of replacing their mining needs a hill that wouldn’t be missed, instead the chose to expand their mining on the Mormont and to petition the government so to tear apart the rest of the hill. Some people chose to accept this it because it’s comfortable, other stand up for the environment and there historic land being used for its beauty all the way back to the ancient Celts who left artifacts and buried dead local archeologists have found. Unfortunately it looks grim for the hill and all those around it.
An effect of the climate change is that of complicity. We are all complicit as long as we continue to chose comfort over what is the rational and right thing to do. We have allowed ourselves to become complicit in the razing of our forests, the polluting and tampering of our rivers, the change of our climate and the practical enslavement of our fellow human. They extract resources in terrible conditions and our planet is being plagued so that we may take them for granted.
How do you envision yourself and the world in 2030?
When I close my eyes and think to what the world will look like in ten years, I envision myself in a world approaching net zero CO2 emissions. Where large strides have been made and continue to made so that all people are treated equally and with equity no matter there appearance or origins. I envision a world in which there is still work to be done but that has already improved incrementally over the last decade.
If you had a platform to call on the world leaders for climate crisis, what would you like to say to them?
I wish they could know that when you focus too much on one thing, when you spend too much time looking at the world through a lenticular lens, your mind stops imagining what the rest of the world looks like outside of that perspective.
What is really important and what is just not worth it. The people need them to look at the world with a different perspective, one that will allow them to see that the planet is suffering and so are the people. A perspective that will motivate them to do what is necessary to save the world.
What are your movement’s demands from your government?
Our demands are simple. A declaration of a state of emergency in regards to climate change, net zero CO2 emissions by 2030, and that the application of climate justice. We are all equal under the climate and we demande to see this undeniable truth applied.
‘We must put a stop to the crisis itself’
What would you like to see as a change in other words what do you think would be the best plan to reverse the climate crisis?
The climate crisis can’t be reversed as of now. From where we are now reversing it nears impossibility. First we must put a stop the the crisis itself then mitigate the effects still to come from our current progression towards devastation. In doing so we would need to utilize this tragic opportunity to usher ourselves into a new, progressive and prosperous future
Finally, what do you want to add?
As someone who has lives in the US, in Switzerland and briefly in France, I have been able to understand the profound effect that the climate crisis has on the people and especially how the culture has an effect on the the growing climate crisis. My mom being French I have spent a lot of time in France I understand that the climate crisis is topic growing in importance for people in all regions as well as all generations. The environmental and economic effects are not lost on them and though the priorities of each individual are not the same one thing is certain, that the climate crisis needs a serious planned response from the government and corporations.
Having lived in America with an American father I have been experienced both European and American cultures. The one thing outpacing all social or political issues in importance for Americans is that if the environment and climate crisis.The economy has always been a top three in terms of important subjects and now for many people the climate crisis is nearing it in importance or has even surpassed it in importance.
And though climate change deniers are surprisingly large in numbers they are in no way more than a small minority. Those who think that climate change isn’t important are a separate group who take a faire about of room yet are still a minority. Even conservatives recognize the importance of the climate crisis and young conservatives have been themselves vocal in its importance to them. Though between liberals, progressives, conservative and centrists, making up large pars of both parties, the response to climate change and its priority compared to the economy isn’t the same. One thing however is clear, it is acknowledged and its importance though varied is present in Americans.