Lilly (11) is an international environmental champion from The Netherlands. She is a Youth Ambassador for Plastic Pollution Coalition and Water Charity HOW Global. She founded Lillys Plastic Pickup where she spreads awareness about plastic pollution in the world and solutions. She is an advocate for change, a climate activist and the longest-standing schoolstriker in the Netherlands.
Where does your interest in policy, politics and especially the elections to the European Parliament come from? What is your main motivation to engage yourself?
My interest in policy started when my initiative Lillys Plastic Pickup really took off and I was spreading awareness of the plastic pollution issues. I was told I was in the list of top 100 influencers tackling plastic pollution at no.28. I followed MEPs and the EU Twitter handles to keep up to date with what is going on. The EU have set a policy banning single use plastics by 2025 I wonder why not now. My activism now also includes my schoolstriking for the climate. I was invited to the climate debate in March in the EU Parliament. Of 751 seats only 28 seats were filled for the debate- it was very disappointing. What was also disappointing was the bottles and bottle of single use plastic water. My main motivation is helping to protect the environments and the animals that live in it. Plastic pollution is not just a problem for one country it’s for every country in Europe and in the world. There is no away with plastic it is not biodegradable. It gives animals the illusion its food and once they eat it they feel full and never eat again and slowly starve themselves. The EU needs to step up to this.
What are your concrete suggestions regarding climate change policy at EU level towards candidates to the European Parliament? What would a candidate need to promise you to make you vote for her/his party?
My schoolstriking has been about getting the attention from politicians to align with the Paris agreement and reduce CO2 emissions and keep to the 1.5 C target for global warming.
- Companies producing emission need to be taxed over the whole of Europe not just policy from country to country. There is no incentive to reduce emissions as there is no proper taxing system in place.
- Roof top space needs to be used for solar panels instead of precious land surface.
- People who rent should be able to make where they live more sustainable.
- Stop the shipping of wood pellets for biomass factories in Europe from the other side of the ocean. Forests are one of the big answers to climate change they must be protected.
- VAT tax on aircraft fuel.
To get me to vote for a candidate I need to know they are more acting and less talking. They need to enforce the Paris agreement. My wish for climate change to be taught from the youngest at school so that they are brought up with awareness of the issues and can be enabled to do something as they grow up.
What are the “hot” topics regarding climate change in your country? How do they potentially affect the upcoming Elections?
Here in the Netherlands the main topics are Co2 reduction, electric cars, phasing out coal plants and air travel with the potential expansion of schiphol and the building and opening of Lelystad airport.
There is a lot of air travel shaming between the parties. Showing that train travel is far better for shorter distances under 750 km. The pricing is what is key to this policy.
The shutting of coal plants has led to a lot of anger because of fear of losing jobs and money. The changing from a job in a coal plant to another needs to be done carefully and then people will happy.
What should young people keep in mind while making their decision in the election to the European Parliament? What could they do if they do not yet have the right to vote themselves?
Young people need to learn the values of the EU and know that the last b74 years there have been no wars. I am lucky my grandfather is giving me his vote in these elections I will vote by proxy. I hope that every climate striker can be supported like this and they speak to their grandparents about the vote. This EU election is the climate election. We have voiced our opinions with our strike now we can voice them with our vote.
In your opinion, is giving a vote enough?
A vote is once every 4 years. The politicians need to be more visible to their voters. It should not feel like we can have no say and that politics is something that is far away from us. People need to feel connected. In Holland I can see no sign about this election. It worries me there is no energy for something so important. People should feel a connection. It is our future.
Thank you for this interview!