When Benjamin de Molliens decides to commit to the climate, it is with the sweat of his brow. Literally. Since May 2020, this Marseillais has been developing the “Zero Expedition” project, which aims to educate the general public through itinerant and ecological sporting adventures. This Friday, October 22, he is launching a new challenge: to reach Glasgow, where the COP26 will be held from November 1, by sailboat and by bike.
It will start from Lille and cross the Channel to then face a cycling journey of around 1,000 kilometers, at a rate of 100 to 130 km per day. Benjamin de Molliens will be alone for most of his trip, but the idea is despite everything to be part of a “collaborative project”. “A lot of people have decided to join the COP by bike, leaving from many places in Europe,” he explains. We are planning to meet in a city two days by bike from Glasgow and I will undoubtedly have a traveling companion after London ”.
This desire to move forward together is the common factor of all the initiatives developed by the 30-something within the framework of “Zero Expedition”. Even when he cycled the 600 kilometers that separate Brittany from Normandy, followed the Canal du Midi alone on his paddle or crossed the Alps on foot, Benjamin de Molliens was keen to share, to “make people want”.
The high point of this collective movement was undoubtedly the “#nettoietonkm” challenge. Launched on Instagram in November 2020, this initiative was based on a simple principle: pick up waste found on the road during the authorized daily exit time during confinement. Internet users then had to take a picture of their harvest and encourage three friends to take up the challenge in turn.
“My desire is always to raise ecological awareness by starting with myself rather than pointing the finger at others,” he explains. I am neither a politician nor an artist, so I chose to express that through sporting adventures and challenges accessible to all ”. Especially since, for him, a « strong link » exists between sport and ecology, even if he « tends to be forgotten ».
The « 3 Zeros » rule
“As Nicolas Hulot says, wonder is the first step towards respect and I think that sport is a good way to be amazed, to see what is beautiful. But, today, it is marked by a race for performance and equipment, always more technical or even technological, deplores Benjamin de Molliens. Major competitions involve travel all over the world that pollutes very much and sport comes to be detached from its environment, to destroy it ”.
His « expeditions », like the one to take him to Glasgow, serve as a « vehicle » to « capture people’s attention and show them what it is to live, to move, to achieve things in a way. more sober ”. Because each of Benjamin de Molliens’ projects revolves around the “3 Zeros”: zero waste, zero new equipment and zero carbon footprint.
For his Scottish adventure, he equipped himself with the support of companies, large and small, who provided him with a “bike from their test park”, “unsaleable prototypes” or even upcycled equipment. He already had second-hand equipment acquired for his previous adventures. Individuals also come to his aid, like this yachtsman who offered to take him across the Channel aboard a sailboat celebrating his “50 years this year”. Benjamin de Molliens will sleep in his tent most of the time and will spend a few nights with the locals “if the weather is really bad”.
“The idea is not to be perfect, I am not completely zero, admits the eco-adventurer. But the objective is to tell what I manage to do and also when I cannot, to improve myself the next time. The interest is to arouse questioning, in him as in others, to « change scale » and « review our operating methods ».
The Marseillais will pursue the same objectives once he arrives in Glasgow, as a speaker at COP26. He will lead two workshops, the Climate Fresco and 2 Tonnes, which aim to refine the understanding of the causes and effects of climate change while finding concrete solutions to reduce his own carbon footprint.
Even if it is similar to « a great political mass with many words and few acts », the COP26 is, according to the thirty-something, not without stake. « It is mainly 15 days of negotiations between the countries on the line to follow, » he explains. For the first time since COP21, they will present an accounting report on the commitments made and their progress ”. The event should make it possible to set new objectives in the fight against climate change, or in any case to sign « new amendments to the Paris Agreement, in the light of new data », in particular that revealed by the last IPCC report.
Beyond that, Benjamin de Molliens believes that these large official gatherings « serve as a magnet for many other actions, create symbolism and hope ». He is delighted to see the climate emergency « more and more publicized and increasingly important at the heart of strategic discussions of States ». A sort of green wave that will hopefully give it enough momentum to cross the Channel.