From animal lover to climate activist: Greenway partner Cédric Hanet

The Greenway team is filled with good energy and positive vibes, that’s obvious. But who are the people behind the brand? And why do they choose to be so committed to climate action? We asked Greenway partner Cédric Hanet about his motives, objectives and vision.

Hello Cédric, let us get to the heart of the matter. Where does your love for our planet come from?

Cédric Hanet: "My father was fond of horses. His passion spread to me at an early age. I’ve spent most of my childhood outside, among the animals. Of course, as a little boy I was not aware how big the climate challenges were. That awareness only grew during my university education, where I followed a sustainable development course."

That course actually determined your career path?

Indeed. The course was a true eye-opener. Later, I decided to conduct further research into international climate policy for my dissertation. During the research and the accompanying writing process, I occurred to me that climate change is the biggest challenge of our times. The complexity lays in the fact that it is a very slow and fairly invisible problem, at least for now. To tackle the problem, a global approach is much needed, which makes it even more complex. However, that moment I decided to do everything I could to become part of the solution, both personally and professionally.

You were trained by Al Gore, the American politician and Nobel laureate who’ve put climate change high on the world agenda ...

When I was studying climate change for my dissertation, the documentary "An inconvenient truth" came out. I was extremely intrigued and decided to go to the United States to follow a course given by Al Gore. This was at a time when people did not realize that climate change is a real problem, and that it will not only affect us, but especially the next generations. After graduating, I also gave a lot of lectures to spread that message. Of course, there is still a huge difference between awareness and concrete action. Many people are afraid of the cost of a sound climate policy, and the many benefits – also economically – are underemphasized.

How did you make your life "climate-friendly"?

I made a number of choices that seemed a bit difficult at first, but quickly became a habit. I am a vegetarian, I often take the train, I ride a folding bike and I have an electric car. In addition, my wife Soline and I are currently building an energy-neutral home. I'm lucky that she's on the same wavelength as I am when it comes to life choices. The problem with many activists is that, with the best of intentions, they quickly seem moralistic, which is counterproductive I think. I’ve noticed that we actually are quite resilient as humans. For example, look at the adjustments that were made to deal with the corona crisis. My belief in science and its progress is very high.

Good read:
Drawdown by Paul Hawken,
a bestseller about climate change policy

What can we do for the climate ourselves?

I think all experts agree that you have the biggest impact as an individual, and it doesn’t even take that much of an effort. For example, you have a huge impact if you follow a plant-based diet. Every small step is a good step, even if it only is for one day a week. It is of importance not to be too hard on yourself, because your commitment then feels like something negative. We do not need a small group of perfect climate activists, but a large group of imperfect ones.

At what moment in your career are you most proud of?

That must be the launch of the Greenway Burger, a really great moment for both Paul and myself, and for the entire Greenway team, of course. It is a product that appeals to the imagination and has tempted a large group of people to eat more plant-based.

Do you also have guilty pleasures that are not that eco-friendly?

My wife and I try to make one big trip every year. Soak up new cultures, get to know new people, that's what we like to do.

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