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Young Environmentalists Challenge U.N. Climate Delegates: “Stop Talking. Start Planting”

StoryDecember 13, 2010
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In a courtyard outside within the Moon Palace Resort in Cancún, young environmentalists dug holes for 193 baby trees, one for each nation in the world. Their message for the delegates at the U.N. Climate Change Conference: “Stop talking. Start planting.” Felix Finkbeiner, the 13-year-old founder of Plant for the Planet, says their goal is to plant one million trees in every country, a feat that has already been accomplished in his home country of Germany. We speak to Felix and 10-year-old Alessa Miridis Monroy of Cancún. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show with the voices of two children planting trees outside the U.N. climate change talks. They were with the youth-led group Plant-for-the-Planet.

ALESSA MIRIDIS MONROY: My name is Alessa Miridis. I’m 10 years old. And I’m with the campaign Plant-for-the-Planet. And today we’re planting trees with Plant-for-the-Planet from 1:00 to 3:00.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you planting trees?

ALESSA MIRIDIS MONROY: Because we want a better future, and we want the CO2 to reduce, and helping by planting trees.

AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from?

ALESSA MIRIDIS MONROY: Well, I was born here. I’m from Cancún.

AMY GOODMAN: And how did you get involved with the climate summit?

ALESSA MIRIDIS MONROY: Because one day Felix came to our school and invited us. And we were really — we were really interested in this campaign. We thought it was really good, because we — in that moment, we just heard that our planet was not really in good care, so we wanted to do something about it.

FELIX FINKBEINER: I’m Felix. I’m from Bavaria in Germany. And we children are planting one million trees in each country of the world. In Germany we’ve already planted the million trees. And there are children in over 90 countries participating, fighting for their future in their countries.

AMY GOODMAN: How old are you, Felix?


AMY GOODMAN: And what is the name of your organization?

FELIX FINKBEINER: The organization is called Plant-for-the-Planet.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you start it?


AMY GOODMAN: How did you start this organization, and how old were you when you started it?

FELIX FINKBEINER: When I was nine in fourth grade, I was supposed to give a presentation about the climate crisis in my class. And I prepared this presentation on the weekend, like every other class presentation. And on a website, I found out about Wangari Maathai, the woman in Africa who planted 30 million trees. And at the presentation, I spontaneously said, “Let’s plant one million trees in each country of the world.” So we started a project two months later and planted the first tree.

AMY GOODMAN: And how many up to now?

FELIX FINKBEINER: I don’t exactly know in total, but in Germany we’ve got the million planted, and there are many more worldwide.

AMY GOODMAN: So it looks like there’s a lot of guys with coily little ear pieces in their ears —


AMY GOODMAN: — which means a president is coming. Which president?

ALESSA MIRIDIS MONROY: Well, I think it’s the president from Ecuador. He’s coming here to plant a tree.

PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA: Stop talking. Start planting. Wonderful. OK.

AMY GOODMAN: Felix and Alessa are part of Plant-for-the We will link to their website at

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