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It was around a fire, on the banks of the Bell River, north of Senneterre in Abitibi-Témiscamingue that I first settled the emotions that the United Nations Conference on Climate change taking place in Paris. Several days after the end of COP21, I was still in shock. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of heads of state I have met without counting the number of ministers, past presidents, globally recognized activists, leading scholars and members. of the Canadian and Quebec opposition.

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I had the chance to talk about the future of the planet with Steven Guilbeault, Elizabeth May, Jean Lemire and many others. I worked with them every day for almost two weeks.

I had the chance to speak alone about the future of Quebec (and sometimes criticize certain government policies, which many Quebecers would dream of now) with Philippe Couillard, David Heurtel, Pier-Karl Péladeau, François Legault, Thomas Mulcair , Stéphane Dion, Catherine McKenna and Manon Massé.

I was fortunate enough to witness a moment that will probably mark history - the passage of the Paris Agreement. Few people will have an opportunity like this in their lifetime and I am fully aware of it. I would probably never relive a moment like this, and I still hardly realize the magnitude of it.

I knew that when I got back I was going to need a good dose of humility and realism to let go of the emotions I was going through. I was going to need some time to put this fabulous spectacle of COP21 into perspective.

This moment of retrospection was quickly offered to me. As soon as I got off the plane bringing me back from France, I got into a car which, after an additional seven hours of travel, was going to take me back to my homeland. Destination, my big sister's chalet located north of north.

Your chalet is the kind of place you dream of when you want to find yourself in great wilderness. It is a rustic building with no running water, powered by a solar panel, located at the gateway to James Bay. From the shore, you can see the first tumultuous rapids of the river. The low rumble of the choppy water arises like a soothing background noise. Straight and disheveled, the black spruce trees that occupy the entire field of vision are reminiscent of the harsh climate.

Each time I visit Abitibi, I force myself to go for a detour for a few days.

It was in this setting, by the light of a campfire on which our meal was cooking, that my brother-in-law, Simon, brought me back to reality. "Concretely, what will the Paris agreement change? Wasn't that just a big smoke show? "

I told him what I told the media for the past two weeks. “I hope things will change for good. I felt like it was more than fireworks. The architecture of the agreement appears to be good. The dice have been rolled, but it remains to be seen what countries really do. Hidden behind this beautiful answer, I myself had doubts.

I try to remain critical while understanding the difficulties associated with the fight against climate change. I especially understand one thing. Most of the problems start with us, the consumers. As long as we continue to buy more than we really need, as long as we buy "brats" made to break as soon as the warranty expires, as long as we don't demand more from an environmental point of view, companies that take advantage of the situation will continue to act as they do.

We imagine that having a better bike will mean that we will ride more often. In doing so, we seldom care which one we throw out which, however, more than met our needs. We imagine that we will go do more activity outdoors with a new coat without ever considering its totally negative environmental footprint.

In short, we always imagine ourselves happier with the latest gadget. And yet ...

The real problem is that the prices of our consumer goods do not reflect their real costs. They do not reflect the environmental and social damage they cause.

On this point, the Paris agreement failed. Environmental externalities will not be included in the value of the products we consume every day. It will therefore be up to companies to adopt sound practices and subsequently justify their sometimes higher prices. It will also be up to citizens to make conscientious choices. For consumers to buy less and buy better.

If international treaties fail to resolve the issue, who will? How can we make our society change? How to get people to opt for a fashion.

Following a long discussion, Simon and I arrived at the same conclusion. People have to get out outside, reconnect with nature. Why? Because nature connects us with something true.

Moreover, most of my happiest memories are often the simplest. The four months spent in the Yukon sleeping in my tent or under the stars. The days speaned despite the -35 degrees to make igloos or cross-country skiing in the light of frontal lamps. The kayak outings in the rapids of the Bell River ending with a meal cooked on the fire. The evenings watching a sunset on Lake Kipawa after a canoe day. The past nights crushed in the snow, looking at the shabrageous contour of the conifers on the other side of a moonlit watercourse.


Moreover, most of my happiest memories are often the simplest. The four months spent in the Yukon sleeping in my tent or under the stars. The days speaned despite the -35 degrees to make igloos or cross-country skiing in the light of frontal lamps. The kayak outings in the rapids of the Bell River ending with a meal cooked on the fire. The evenings watching a sunset on Lake Kipawa after a canoe day. The past nights crushed in the snow, looking at the shabrageous contour of the conifers on the other side of a moonlit watercourse.

It is these moments which, by their sometimes peaceful simplicity, make us realize that happiness is not dependent on material possessions. These are these moments that show us the beauty of nature and the importance of protecting it. These are these moments that connect with something that seems bigger than ourselves.

People need to reconnect with nature because it's from there we come.

Simon

Simon concluded the conversation on a sentence that made me think; "People have to reconnect with nature because it's from there that you come." I stayed for a few minutes to look at fire in silence in Paris, COP21, to our consumption problems as a society and to ask me how to simplify our lives. I looked up to watch the typically Abitibian landscape offered to me asking me; "What more do you want? »

Happiness is in simple things. If everyone realized that, our planet would get much better.

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Guillaume Rivest - Bachelor of a Master's degree in Environment

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