17-year-old climate-protection campaigner Felix Finkbeiner wins the Reader’s Digest “European of the Year 2015” award.
He is only 17 years old and already a world ambassador for more effective climate protection. Felix Finkbeiner and his climate-rescue initiative Plant-for-the-Planet have already planted hundreds of millions of saplings all over the world to help save the Earth from climate collapse. For his exemplary commitment, the European issues of Reader’s Digest magazine have now selected him as “European of the Year.” This makes student Finkbeiner the youngest recipient of the award in its 20-year history.
By the year 2020 Finkbeiner and his fellow campaigners intend to have planted one trillion trees, 150 for every single person on the planet. “The Earth has plenty of room for all those extra trees without needing to encroach on farmland or the places where people live, and they would absorb a quarter of global CO2 emissions,” Felix says on his vision. He laid the foundations for his initiative when he was nine years old and preparing to give a presentation about the climate crisis to his classmates. He found an online article about Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, who helped get 30 million trees planted in her home country over 30 years. “I got it into my head that me and my classmates could do something similar, so we planted a tree,” says Felix in the February issue of Reader’s Digest. The children started the Plant-for-the-Planet initiative with the aim of bringing together kids from all over the world and planting a million trees in every country.
In the meantime, 120,000 children and adolescents the world over have become active campaigners for the cause. Felix Finkbeiner is invited to address audiences around the globe. In 2011 he made a speech to the United Nations, and he greatly impressed supporters like Prince Albert of Monaco and Al Gore. But Felix, who still attends an international school, feels that he is far from having achieved his ultimate aim. After leaving school, he intends to study in the United States and to fight for his vision there. “In America, far too many people believe that there have always been such extreme climate and weather events throughout Earth’s history,” he claims. “But 97 percent of the climate studies come to the conclusion that climate change is man-made and demands to be taken very seriously.”
The Reader’s Digest “European of the Year” award
Every year, the European editors-in-chief of the international magazine Reader’s Digest confer this award to people who engage themselves with urgent societal issues and thus help improve the lives of others. Since the inauguration of this remarkable award in 1996, Reader’s Digest magazine, which appears in 29 editions and 17 languages, has distinguished a large number of deserving individuals. Among the recipients in earlier years are the French judge Eva Joly (2002), the Dutch-American women’s rights campaigner and Islam critic Aayan Hirsi Ali (2006), German AIDS campaigner Joachim Franz (2009), and Polish television journalist Agnieszka Romaszewska (2013).