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High Schools Debate Climate Change


On Saturday, November 7, 2015, Deputy Cultural Counselor Thomas Michelon delivered the following remarks to open a debate on climate change featuring high school students from the Lycée Français of New York, French Heritage program, and the vast network of New York public schools. The students discussed the issues surrounding climate change with experts Jeffrey Kluger, Patrick Bolton, Pierre Gentine, and Peter B. de Menocal. The debate was held at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York.

Mesdames et messieurs

Cher Alexis,

Dear Jeffrey,

Dear panelists,

Thank you all for being here.

As you know, the Festival Albertine aims to be a space to debate the big topics of our time. In light of the upcoming COP21, we must also raise our voices to discuss this major event, which will dictate an international agenda on climate that will encompass all nations. In just a few weeks, initiatives and regulations and that affect us all will be outlined. This is precisely why we have decided, in close collaboration with Lycee Francais de New York and Green Alliance, to organize an event on the stakes of the climate negotiations in progress. We have equally judged it necessary to dedicate this event to the new generation. You, more than the previous generations, must take into account and even live with these unprecedented climate transformations, which will impact the lives of billions of people. We must embrace a new era, with all the attention required to manage it. To give way to catastrophe is nonsensical. Never have we had so many important technological discoveries; never have we had such a rich collective understanding  of our planet; never have we had so many tools at our disposal to place us in the right direction.

Today, you will not only discuss with esteemed academics and diplomats, but you also will share your unique perspective. By the end of this meeting, you will be the authors of declarations that we will be proud to submit to our own leaders. It’s up to you, more than us or anyone else, to express yourselves, and to say what you want to see for the upcoming world. 

I will soon give the floor to the excellent speaker Alexis Lamek, who will present the major stakes involved in the negotiations in progress, and then to Jeffrey Kluger, who, to our great pleasure, has accepted to moderate this conference. But first I must especially thank LFNY Principal Sean Lynch, and Mrs. Pascale Richards, also from LFNY, as well as Mrs. Margaret Watson of the Green Alliance, and my colleague Mathilde Landier. Without them, this event would not be possible.

An excellent debate to all!