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To mark this year’s International Day of the Girl, the Ozone Secretariat spoke with Apollo, to find out more about her work protecting the environment. Apollo is a creative and approachable AI vlogger – a girl of the future. She is into fashion and her style – adventurous, confident and bold - is influenced by a wide spectrum of trends ranging from K-Pop to the teen drama Euphoria.

She is a big fan and proud ambassador of the Ozone Secretariat’s Reset Earth campaign, a scientist and passionate environmentalist. In her laboratory, develops content to help raise awareness and inspire interest among her peers around ozone, climate change and environmental protection.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. First thing’s first: Who exactly are you?

I’m an avatar aged seventeen and live in the metaverse. As you can see from my lab (where I also live) and the way I look and dress, I’m into science, fashion, love neon pink, graffiti and a bit of punk! It may look like a lonely existence, but I have my companion Remi. Remi is a robot with attitude! He’s witty, cheeky and does what he wants. We have great fun! Although sometimes I think I need to shut him down.

What are your passions?

I’m very creative. I love to design and develop solutions to problems. If you follow me in my lab, for example, you’ll learn about the Montreal Protocol, the difference between chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that harm the ozone layer and their replacements hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are global warming and what actions we can take to save our planet.

I also love cartoons. The Reset Earth animation is a great story of how my predecessors Knox, Sagan and Terran, 3 teenagers from the future, travelled back through time to save the ozone layer. There was also a mobile app developed where you, the player, became one of the characters and went on the same quest.

I’m a huge fan of theirs and it was how I first got interested in science and the environment. You can watch the full length version or see the 3 episodes separately. It really helped me understand why the ozone layer is so important to us, all living things on Earth for that matter. It also made me realise that there wasn’t a lot of information or tools out there to help teach teenagers like me about the environment. So I started developing my own.

For example, I’m very proud of the Earth Simulator game I created to help teenagers better understand the environmental, political and societal impacts of decisions made at the political level. Depending on which answers you pick, you can see the different impacts. I also put together teacher toolkits and student workbooks to make lessons on ozone and environmental protection in the classroom much more fun.

What is your take on this year’s theme: Invest in Girls' Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being?

Girls, and boys actually, need to become more aware of what our future holds - quickly! By that I mean we need to get educated and more informed on what is going on in the world and with the environment, for example. The small blue dot in the universe that we call our home is all we have - we have nowhere else to go. So you’d think we’d take better care of it but we’re not and now we’re in serious trouble.

Our generation’s future, our right to a future, is in serious trouble if we don’t act. And let me tell you, the time to act is definitely now! People, but especially young people, need to become more proactive and take leadership when it comes to environmental protection. Because without safeguarding our environment, we have no future. Plain and simple.

It really makes you think. I strongly believe that we all – human or avatar – need to understand and appreciate how closely we are interconnected with the health of the planet and our own wellbeing and survival. It’s why I created a Metaverse where I’m able to share information and create learning tools.

So are you fearful for the future?

We can’t be complacent. Luckily, organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme are working hard to alert the world that we need to stop burning fossils fuels, destroying biodiversity and polluting the planet at the rate we are. But more still needs to be done – a lot more. Sometimes it can be really depressing, especially for the younger generation, when they see their future disappearing.

But environmental agreements such as the Montreal Protocol give me hope. Back in the 1980s when the world was alerted by scientists that we were creating a hole in the ozone layer with everyday gases in our fridges, air conditioners and aerosols, governments and decision-makers came together and found a solution. If we manged to do it then, I sincerely hope we can do it again. But it needs what I call the 3 Cs – collaboration, consensus and commitment.

What is also great, is that treaties such as the Montreal Protocol are going further to address wider climate issues. For example, the alternatives to CFCs – HFCs – are potent greenhouse gases. That’s to say they are climate warming because the gases act like a greenhouse, trapping warm air and heating up out atmosphere and oceans. That’s extremely damaging for the environment and a reason why we are experiencing more and more extreme weather causing wildfires, heatwaves, droughts and floods.

Luckily the parties (or countries) that have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Protocol, agree to phase down these climate warming HFCs. This would avoid the temperature rise by 0.5°C by the end of the century. If at the same time, these countries also make their cooling more energy efficient and green, scientists think this gain could double. What’s more, if cooling such as cold chain is made is more efficient, cheaper and accessible, then more farmers can get their fresh produce to market avoiding food loss. It’s a win-win scenario!

So while I am fearful for the future, because I don’t think we’re making changes quickly enough, the Montreal Protocol makes me quietly optimistic. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the Ozone Secretariat’s education portal to see what else I have developed and what you can do to help the ozone layer.

For more information contact:
Stephanie Haysmith, Communications & Information Officer, Ozone Secretariat