Felix Finkbeiner is fighting climate change with trees – plant for the Planet!

11. September 2017 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Felix Finkbeiner is 19 today and has, for the past 10 years, been following an admirable goal: he wants to plant, with other children and adolescents, one trillion trees worldwide. That’s 1000 billion trees.

It all began 10 years ago with a tiny school project. He was in fourth grade and doing a presentation on climate change. When he realized that his favorite animal, the polar bear, would go extinct if nothing changed, he decided to take action. The only problem? Could a nine year old boy really make any substantial changes to impact climate change?

While researching his presentation, he came upon Wangari Maathai. The woman from Kenia, who later received the Nobel Peace Price, had managed to plant 30 million trees in 30 years. So he thought, well, the children here in Germany should be able to plant a million trees!

A million trees against climate change

Without actually knowing how much one million really is, and even less thinking about the fact that he was starting off a worldwide project, he just went ahead and got going. Starting at his own school in Bavaria, and other schools in the vicinity, he campaigned for his idea, and soon, children in all of Germany were planting trees. Today, Plant for the Planet, is known around the globe.

After the first year, Felix received a letter from the UN, inviting him to take part in the Environmental Program UNEP, an international children’s and adolescent’s conference, where young adults meet to speak about their country’s environmental issues. And so, Plant for the Planet was slowly gaining international prominence.

The “One Trillion Tree Campaign 2018”

Together with Al Gore, he recently forged plans for 2018. The “One Trillion Tree Campaign” should ensure that another 1000 billion trees are planted worldwide. The could definitely fit in with the already existing 3000 billion and would be able to compensate about half of all man made carbon emissions. That alone might not solve the crisis, but it would be a very important step. Felix Finkbeiner calls it “playing for time”: the trees might not stop climate change, but can definitely slow things down.

To date, there are 1000 Plant for the Planet Academies in 60 countries. Around 60000 kids between the ages of 10 and 14 have been briefed as ambassadors, goal one million. They’re taught what climate change and the justice crisis are and why it’s so important to plant trees. Above all else, they get comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, all over the world.

Nowadays, Felix lives in London, to go to University. He doesn’t spend much time in Germany, especially not to plant trees, which is relatively expensive here, and the trees grow slowly. It makes more sense to plant in countries where its cheaper to plant trees and where they grow faster. Right now, large projects are looking at south Asia, parts of Africa and Latin America.

Starting small is always worth it!

In an interview, he once said, “I got very lucky. If my teacher hadn’t supported me, the project would never have started out and we would never have met the right people.” His clear message: starting small is worth it. It might amount to something huge. Even if it still amazes him.

Felix Finkbeiner has, even at his young age of 19, an impressive personality. He has stayed down to earth, regardless of his hugely successful project. Let him insipre you with his vision of a better world! felix.finkbeiner@premium-speakers.com

Felix Finkbeiner

Founder of Plant-for-the-Planet - Foundation