Green School’s Green Generation is a group of students, teachers, and interns from Green School and Kul Kul Connection who are headed to Paris for the COP21 & COY11 this December. Our mission is this: to raise awareness about the increasingly urgent issue of anthropogenic climate change, and contribute to positive change at the COP21 & COY11 under the UNFCCC. We will represent the Green School as well as Indonesia by working with organizations and schools on the ground, participating in the youth conference, performing an original Green School production, showcasing sustainable student initiatives, and taking part in the collective call for action on the issue of anthropogenic climate change. This is a pivotal moment in the history of our planet. The decisions made in Paris will affect each of us for the rest of our lives. This is our world. This is our school. This is our responsibility.
The path to Paris began weeks ago. Learning, fundraising, planning, and contributing to positive action here in Bali has kept us all in constant motion, accomplishing and achieving so much. GS Green Generation has been present and engaged at Victory MUN in Jakarta, and at the recent Renewable Energy Forum in Nusa Dua. Representing GS Green Generation at Victory MUN in Jakarta gave us the chance to experience a simulation of what the COP21 & COY11 might be like. Representatives discussed issues relating to climate change in a professional environment. GS Green Generation also got to spread the word about our movement and to collaborate with other like-minded international students.
The Renewable Energy Forum in Nusa Dua allowed us to present two of the student-founded initiatives that we will be bringing with us to Paris. The first is Bye Bye Plastic Bags, a local movement started by Green School students to make Bali plastic bag free. The second project that we spoke about at the Renewable Energy Forum was the Bio Bus. The Bio Bus is Green School’s sustainable transportation system. Green School has a bus transporting families to and from school, fueled by recycled cooking oil collected all around Bali. This project also supports a zero waste policy by using the cooking oil waste product to make soap! Two Bye Bye Plastic Bags members will be attending the COP21 & COY11 as part of GS Green Generation. The Bio Bus also has multiple student representatives in our group.
In addition to those two events, we organized two of our own! Most recently we hosted a benefit concert and movie screening to raise funds for Borneo (the Indonesian portion known as Kalimantan) and Sumatra, two islands currently consumed in smoke. We hosted this event alongside Kul Kul Connection, and OuTrop, an environmental organization that works to “protect some of the most important tropical rainforests in Borneo.” The band Black Rabbit George drew excited crowds and Heart of the Haze educated attendees on the seriousness and urgency of this issue. Some of you have probably heard about the disastrous forest fires that are tearing through massive chunks of previously untouched Indonesian rain forests – the lungs of our planet. The fires are closely connected to illegal palm plantations and unsafe deforestation methods practiced in these areas by companies from all over the world – but worlds away. The fires are raging out of control and the local firefighters are doing everything in their power to extinguish them. However, they do not have the resources they need to fight back. Another problem is that the fires are in areas incredibly rich with peat, a dangerously flammable natural material that is compressed under the Earth’s surface over many years. Peat fires are particularly hard to put out. They can light in one area, travel underground, and spread to another. These fires are reportedly emitting more CO2 than all of the economic activity of the United States. The smoke cloud can be seen from space. As George Monbiot from the Guardian stated, “A great tract of Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships, already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century so far…” The smoke is one of the most pertinent aspects of the fire affecting the people of Kalimantan and Sumatra. For that reason, our goal was to raise as much money as possible to purchase masks for those who are affected. By the end of the event, we had raised over $1,500 USD. Profits collected by OuTrop (for their merchandise) will also go towards further aid for Kalimantan and Sumatra. We are excited to announce that with this money we will be able to help over 1,000 residents of affected areas.
We will continue to host and plan efforts to help aid the crisis in Kalimantan here in Bali. There are many things that individuals can do to help. The first is to spread the word about the crisis–letters to representatives, news organizations, or social media, as the story has attracted very little international attention. GS Green Generation has also been involved with the #SayNoToPalmOil campaign linked below. It is the unsustainable cultivation and clearing of forests by palm oil companies that are largely responsible for starting the fires. In addition, members of our team are planning initiatives to continue our awareness campaign in Paris – look out for us on the streets dressed as orangutans as part of the effort!
DANCING TO PARIS was a recent fundraising party organized by GS Green Generation. The event was hosted at The Kul Kul Farm and catered by our school cook, the spectacular Ibu Kadek. French morsels were graciously contributed by local restaurants and companies including Paris Baguette, Alsace à Table, and Batukaru Chocolate while wine was kindly consigned by Plaga. The Mangrooves, Green School’s staff band, and volunteer performers kept everyone dancing and laughing late into the night. During the event, Bye Bye Plastic Bags founders presented about their current successes and challenges. The Bio Bus team talked about renewable energy and their zero waste curriculum, and each GS Green Generation member spoke about our passions, motivation, and goals for the COP21 & COY11. One of the most inspiring stories came from GS Green Generation representative Gabrielle Fay. She spoke about her childhood and her journey alongside climate change.
“I have had a beautiful childhood of laughter and love, but also of anxiety and deep curiosities as to why our world is that way it is and what are role are in it. I remember the first time my father introduced climate change to me–I threw up out of fear.
I was afraid and sensitive. Now I have learned to deal with and control my sensitivity for our planet, its creatures and its people, but of course it’s still there, and now I have realised it’s time to use that sensitivity and not be afraid of it.
I want to go to Paris to meet people who feel the same way, to share our stories, and use our passion and love for our world to propel us forward.
I want to go to Paris because I truly believe in the power of people working together, and it is so easy to lose hope, but instead of losing it we will hold that hope, together, as one united world. And that is what we will be doing: working together, sharing, connecting, changing!”
Overall, our fundraiser was a huge success. We had more guests than we could have imagined, many generous donations to our GoFundMe, and raving reviews.
Our GoFundMe has been loving all of the attention it has been getting. In the first twelve hours we raised $2,570–$8,400 in the first two days, and we currently rest, awaiting your support, at $11,200. Of course we couldn’t have come this far without all 386 of our social media sharers! We recognize the pivotal role that their tweets and posts have played in our progress. You too can help out in one or both of those ways! Our Green School community has shown its support; now we call upon our international community! Our crowdfunding goal of $25,000 is within reach. YOUR help is essential to our effort. Each dollar you donate goes towards the cost of our flights, housing, meals, and of course, our participation in the COP21 & COY11. Donations to our GoFundMe are welcomed with open arms and incredible gratitude, as are shares, kind words, and likes. To support us, check our progress, or share our campaign, click here.
GS Green Generation understands the environmental impact that our trip will have. We recognize the CO2 emitted by the flight to and from Paris as our trip’s second cost. While we work to raise funds for our trip, we also work to offset our carbon footprint. Our group will counteract the emissions of our airplane by planting bamboo, and through other more personal commitments (example: going vegetarian). We recently participated in a bamboo planting event alongside the rest of Sibang Kaja. However–this is not enough. Currently, because of the urgency of the fires in Kalimantan, we are re-focussing our efforts. While working to raise awareness and stop the fires may help to curb the massive carbon emissions from the haze, this will not directly offset the carbon for our trip. After we return from Paris we will continue working on local initiatives that will allow us to calculate our offsetting efforts.
For frequent updates, messages of gratitude, and snippets from behind the scenes, you can follow, subscribe, and like GS Green Generation on all of your favorite social media platforms. We will also be releasing images from our slogan and mask competition this week over Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The winning pieces will march with us at the 2016 People’s Climate March in Paris! Keep an eye out for updates!
Our hashtags include: #SayNoToPalmOil #PathToParis #GSGreenGeneration #COP21 #COY11 #StoptheFires