What

HELLO! Well hello Climate-bikers! I think your initiative is so amazing.

Such began a fateful email from Filip Lövström, one which would result in a smiling, blonde, young Swedish man in a Hawaiian shirt pulling his bicycle onto the grassy curb of Route 156 between Gothenburg and the village of Skene to meet us. You may have read that as “Skeen”. It’s actually “Hwee-eh-na”. I think. Filip grew up there, so you’ll have to ask him.

The family farm is down a dirt road a few twists and turns past a field where the family horse, a gentle cob, lives. The farm is home to ripening apple trees, a small cottage that Filip built by hand, an aging barn and a remarkably malleable cat. Outside the barn is a 1980s-era Norwegian electric car, doors and engine removed, melting into the overgrown grass. Inside is the body of a green Porsche 924, internal combustion engine banished to the corner. Wiring is on it’s way in.

Down in the basement is where the magic happens. Blinking lights, endless clutter, tiny tools, voltmeters and stacks of boxes welcome you to Filip’s indoor workspace. Here are hundreds of laptop batteries, sent to Filip by a closed-loop recycling company based in Stockholm. “I knew nothing about electricity before this,” he tells us. Filip is now an engineering student at Linköping University, focusing on Energy & Environment. “I just dove into online forums about electric car building and learned as much as I could, as fast as I could.” The day before we arrived at the farm Filip had welcomed another electric-car-building forum user from Gothenburg. We all rejoiced about the power of the internet becoming real.

When Filip isn’t building his electric Porsche or welcoming new friends to Skene he is busy organizing with PUSH Sweden, an internet based platform where you can find organisations, youth, events and inspiration regarding sustainability. He’s helping coordinate their delegation to COP21, and will be inside the UN space pushing for real change. That’s after his time in Miami being trained to be a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. He doesn’t slow down.

Why

The ride from the farm out to meet us on Route 156 turned out to be the longest bike ride Filip has ever undertaken. He’s not one to shy away from a challenge, and recognized the pivotal nature of 2015-16 for climate action as a significant one. “I am currently taking a year off from my studies to work with sustainability, with main focus on civil society, youth, and COP21.” That and building his electric car.

“Working on sustainability is about community. It’s only recently that I’ve found myself surrounded by incredible people thinking the same way as I have been. It’s what keeps me going,” Filip says. I smile and nod in agreement, looking over to Garrett and Olivia laughing together on the other side of the dinner table. “We all have to work as hard as we can. I’m still spending time in Linköping working to get a divestment campaign off the ground.”

Why the electric Porsche? “Sure, it’s taking thousands of hours. But when people see a young person with no previous experience working this hard in a cold, damp barn to build an electric car, it challenges them to think ‘wait, what can I do?’ I’m going to put signs all over it: 100% Electric. It’s your turn.”

– M