The current movement among students and recent graduates is not homogeneous. Anyone who wants to have a career in line with their ecological ideals is not calling for a radical shift to a different model of society. Marie Gillet, close to the field, works for local authorities. Anne-Fleur Goll wants to help large groups change their way of working by working in a consultancy when Clément Choisne is looking for an alternative path.
Marie Gillet, 27, graduated from AgroParisTech
“The anger to change things”
“I graduated from AgroParisTech in 2018 and am one of the first signatories of the Manifesto for an ecological awakening. When I started school in 2014, I had an interest in the subject, but no political or militant involvement. We had lessons on contemporary issues and challenges, but I remember they were very superficial. My commitment and my better understanding of these topics has been made through association work. It is also thanks to Noise, the school’s green association, that I have been able to gain this confidence in my ability to change things. I see a lot of promotional comrades who feel out of sync with what’s going on in their company, but have a kind of helplessness about it. They lack the experience of activism.
“I didn’t give a speech during my graduation, but I regretted it. It was quite a depressing moment. All posts lacked perspective and critical scope. We presented student trajectories aimed at start-ups, but completely disconnected from the problem. In my career, I regularly try to take stock to ask myself whether I am at the level of radicalism that suits me, or whether I am not losing my anger to change things.
“I worked for a year as an environmental researcher at an environmental design agency. Then I was out of work for a year to get involved in the collective For an ecological awakening, other associations of young people committed to ecology and solidarity, Emmaus, and to participate in other more direct actions, especially blockades. Now I am an agricultural facilitator for the protection of water resources in a community of municipalities. It is my task, together with the actors in the field, to ensure that as little pollution as possible reaches the groundwater. Olivier Monod
Anne-Fleur Goll, age 25, graduated from HEC
“We also need pressure from within, in companies”
“My ecological awareness came, in small steps, around the age of 22. Information about Instagram accounts. The departure of Nicolas Hulot from the government. The Rise of the Media of Jean-Marc Jancovici [ingénieur engagé dans la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique, ndlr]† Little by little I realized that what was happening was serious and that there was a lot to do. When I think back to my exchange year in Peru, I feel a bit ashamed because of the CO2 impact of the trip.
“With HEC Transition, an association of former students interested in the environment, we work particularly with the school on the revision of educational models. After my speech at the graduation ceremony, I had only positive feedback. I am the first surprise. Professors, students, alumni thank me and tell me how much it makes them think. I know we are in the minority right now, but speaking up on these issues opens up questions from others and shows the way.
“My early career has been dedicated to helping companies transform well. There is sometimes greenwashing through simple ignorance of proper levers and fundamental orders of magnitude. I bring this expertise to them within the Deloitte consultancy. This may seem surprising to some, but the company’s sustainable development department is very active. Every day I help banks and insurers to include the energy transition in their strategic decisions, for example when renovating their real estate portfolio. I know what I’m doing and I’m proud of that.
“Society as a whole must take the turn in the energy transition. We therefore need external forces, activists, lobbies to push companies. At the same time, you also need pressure from within that people in companies say they can’t handle anymore. To me, these approaches are complementary. Olivier Monod
Clément Choisne, 27, graduate of Central Nantes
“The challenge is less technical than political and social”
“When I arrived at Centrale Nantes, I still believed in ‘techno-solutionism’, the engineer who has to find technical solutions for environmental challenges. But I soon realized that the issue is less technical than political and social. And that the lessons, often taught by speakers working in large companies that fund the school, were biased and not up to scratch at all. The combustion engine and fossil fuels were given priority over renewable energy sources; the nuclear course did not address the issue of uranium mining, waste and risks; the idea of sustainable development was distorted and swallowed up by the neoliberal system…
“I came across degrowth during a conversation with a PhD student who was studying the subject at Centrale. For me, in a democratically planned reduction of production and consumption, the key is to find a sustainable ecological footprint, reduce inequalities and improve the quality of life. Degrowth is the transition and regrowth the destination. This places life in society within planetary boundaries. It questions the accumulation of value added as measured by an outdated indicator: GDP. In early April I contributed to the launch of the Post-Growth and Degrowth Observatory [OPCD, ndlr]† that wants to bring together all the thinkers of degrowth and want a real societal debate on these issues.
“Since I left Centrale, I have been a teacher in high school and university, I spent two months in the center for research and experimentation of degrowth Cargonomia, in Budapest, I did a little work on the interior of renovation sites, the grape harvest done wwoofing [travailleur bénévole dans une ferme d’agriculture biologique en échange du gîte et du couvert]† Before the Covid I also gave conferences on the theme of “engineering and degrowth”. I will start there on 1 July as a waiter: I have to earn something, I don’t come from a wealthy background. I am also thinking about creating bonds and fun through football again. Nothing is fixed, it is a path. Coralie Schaub