Greta Thunberg Scolds Congress Over Fossil Fuels, More
Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday scolded Congress on policy changes she said are needed to eliminate fossil fuels and stop global warming — saying the US must take into account the “global aspect of equity” and be held to a higher standard than poorer countries like India.
Thunberg, 18, has won praise for her strident environmental activism, but critics have described her forceful projections of doom as naive — which she acknowledged in her testimony.
The young activist appeared on Earth Day before the House Oversight Committee’s environment subcommittee and was pressed by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) on the relevance of US policy changes if other developing countries don’t scrap the use of fuels like coal and oil.
“How can we expect India to take action when the developed countries who have actually promised to lead the way won’t do that?” Thunberg replied.
“If we take into account the global aspect of equity, I mean there are many, many people around the world who need to be able to raise their standard of living. And if we who live in high-income countries aren’t able to take a few steps back in order to let other people raise their living standards, then, I mean, that doesn’t — that just doesn’t make any sense. And of course, those countries definitely need to take their responsibility as well. And that’s why we need global cooperation.”
Thunberg acknowledged that there was little that can be done to compel China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, to ditch fossil fuels.
“We should do, of course, everything we can to make sure that China takes their responsibility. But, I mean, there’s not really much — I mean, all I can do is to try to advocate for global change. All you can do is to take action and try to create a global pressure on China so that they will have to take action. As you say, we can’t just go there and ask them to do it. That would be very nice, but yeah, we need to think realistically as well,” she said.
The hearing was ostensibly about eliminating billions in tax perks for fossil fuel companies, though Thunberg more broadly addressed climate change.
In her opening remarks, Thunberg took a less conciliatory tone in scolding legislators.
“To be honest, I don’t believe for a second that you will actually do this. The climate crisis doesn’t exist in the public debate today,” Thunberg told the subcommittee.
“And since it doesn’t really exist and the general level of awareness is so absurdly low, you will still get away with continuing to contribute to the destruction of present and future living conditions.”
“You will of course say that we are naive. And that’s fine, but at least we are not so naive that we believe things will be solved through countries and companies making vague and distant insufficient targets without any real pressure from the media and the general public,” she said.
“And the simple facts and uncomfortable fact is that if we are to live up to our promises and commitments in the Paris Agreements, we have to end fossil fuel subsidies, stop new exploration and extraction, completely divest from fossil fuels, and keep the carbon in the ground now, especially the US, taking into account the fact that it is the biggest emitter in history. And just to be clear, that is not my opinion, it is what the science clearly shows,” Thunberg added.
“This is just the very minimum amount of effort that is needed to start the rapid sustainable transition.”
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) asked Thunberg at the hearing what she would do if she was the American president.
“I couldn’t really do anything, because that will be undemocratic, Thunberg said. “And we have to of course protect democracy at all costs. So what I would do is to raise awareness so that people would understand why these changes would be necessary, why we need to take drastic climate action that would maybe be the thing I would do first.”
Thunberg acknowledged concern about job losses as a result of environmental reforms.
“Who can blame them? I mean everyone — that’s natural that we care for ourselves and that we want to be able to feed our families,” she said.
“It’s among the top priorities that we actually leave no one behind and that’s what the climate crisis is all about. That’s what climate justice means. It means justice for the people who are most affected but it also means that no one is left behind.”
She added: “And of course I’m not a politician. I’m not even from the US. So I can’t speak exactly on that.”
Thunberg’s youth has been an asset for her public profile but also has drawn scoffs from some conservatives.
Former President Donald Trump poked fun at Thunberg, writing on Twitter in 2019, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
Read rest at NY Post
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