Friday, December 3

Greta Thunberg: I’m willing to meet Biden at Cop26, but I’m not expecting much | Greta thunberg

Greta Thunberg is “open” to meeting Joe Biden at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, although the young Swedish activist is not expecting much from the US leader or from the decisive summit to be held from October 31 to November 12. .

In an interview with the global media collaboration Covering Climate Now, Thunberg expressed surprise at the idea that the US president, or any world leader, wanted to sit down with her at Cop26, but said she was open to the possibility, if asked. “I guess that will depend on the situation,” he said. “I don’t see why these people want to meet me, but they do.”

A week before considering the question of whether he would meet with Biden, Thunberg had accused the president of the United States and other world leaders of offering nice words but no real action on the climate, just “blah, blah, blah,” in a speech at the Youth4Climate summit. That clip from September 28 went viral. In the CCNow interview, conducted by NBC News, Reuters and The Nation, he complained that world leaders “are not taking seriously” youth climate activists. “They just say, ‘We listen to you,’ and then they clap our hands, and then they go on like before.”

The suggestion that Biden has not only spoken out forcefully about the climate crisis, but is also trying to pass the most ambitious climate legislation in US history, does not impress Thunberg. The climate measures in the Democrats’ spending plan now under fierce negotiation in Washington have “been so watered down by lobbyists,” he said, “that we shouldn’t pretend this would be a solution to the climate crisis.” The political problem of Biden, who as president in a democracy, shares power with a legislative body where he faces a unanimous Republican opposition that is determined to block his agenda, does not interest him. She judges only by the results: “Emissions keep increasing.”

The idea of ​​meeting with the president of the world’s other climate change superpower, China’s Xi Jinping, seemed even more distant to Thunberg than a meeting with Biden. However, calling Xi the “leader of a dictatorship,” he did not rule out the idea. However, he emphasized that “democracy is the only solution to the climate crisis, since the only thing that could get us out of this situation is … massive public pressure.”

Wearing a gray hoodie and speaking from his kitchen table in Stockholm, Thunberg said he will attend COP26 in November despite the summit’s potential for “empty talks” and “green washing,” because the gathering of thousands of government officials, activists, scientists and journalists is an opportunity “to show that we are in an emergency and … we are going to try to mobilize people around this.”

Greta Thunberg with Vic Barrett left, during a press conference outside the US capital.
Greta Thunberg with Vic Barrett left, during a press conference outside the US capital. Photograph: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy

“In an emergency that we find ourselves in now, everyone must take their moral responsibility, at least I believe, and use whatever power they have, whatever platform they have, to try to influence and push in the right direction, to make a change. “, said. “I think that is our duty as human beings.”

For Cop26 to be a success, Thunberg suggested, it requires unwavering honesty about “the gap between what we are saying and what we are actually doing… That is not what we are doing now. We are trying to find small concrete solutions that are symbolic to do it seem as if we were doing something, not facing the problem at all. We still don’t count all emissions when we announce targets. We continue to use creative accounting when it comes to emissions cuts, etc. As long as that’s the case, we won’t get very far. “

Thunberg backed numerous lawsuits demanding compensation from fossil fuel companies for their decades of lying about climate change and the resulting harm and suffering, especially in front-line communities. “I believe that these people must be held accountable for all the damage they have caused … especially to the people whose communities and whose health and livelihoods have been devastated by the actions of these companies,” he said. “I think it’s the least you can ask for.”

The activist also called out to the world’s media, saying they have largely “failed … to communicate the emergency we are in.” He noted that “there are many, many news organizations and journalists who are trying” to do more, calling the media “one of my greatest sources of hope right now.” Citing the coronavirus, he said that “when the media decided to treat this pandemic as an emergency, it changed social norms overnight. If the media decided, with all the resources they have, to use their platform… they could reach countless people in a short time, and that could have enormous consequences, positive consequences ”.

Thunberg’s core message has been consistent from the moment he first appeared on the world stage with a burning complaint from global elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019: listen to the science and do what it takes; science says our planetary home is on fire, and world leaders and everyone else should act like it.

The fact that world leaders, on their own account, are not doing what she and millions of activists demand has not led her or other leaders of the movement to consider new strategies and tactics, at least not yet. “Right now, we are just repeating the same message, like a broken record,” he said. “And we are going to take to the streets because you need to repeat the same message… until people understand it. I guess that’s the only option we have. If we find other ways to do it in the future that work better, then maybe we’ll change. “

Thunberg stressed that he sees “many, many bright spots” in the climate emergency, citing the millions of people around the world who are taking action. “When I’m acting, I don’t feel helpless and things are hopeless, because then I feel like I’m doing everything I can,” he said. “And that gives me a lot of hope, especially seeing all the people around the world, the activists, who are taking action and fighting for their present and their future.”

When asked where she sees herself and humanity in 10 years, Greta Thunberg smiled and said, “I have no idea. I believe that as long as I do all I can, as long as we do all that we can, we can live in the moment and try to change the future while we can, instead of trying to predict the future. “

This story originally appeared in the Nation and is part of Covering the weather now, a global media collaboration that strengthens coverage of the climate story. Mark Hertsgaard is the CEO and co-founder of Covering Climate Now and the nation’s environmental correspondent.

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