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Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Great interview with Greta Thunberg where she gets at many of the reasons why I and others think she is such an important leader in the climate fight. It’s not just that she has become famous–though that is a sign of effectiveness. It’s that she is uncompromising in her truth telling. She tells a lot of truths here that we need to hear. A couple of excerpts:

Well, in the final document, they succeeded in even watering down the blah, blah, blah. Which is very much an achievement, if you see it that way. Of course it’s a step forward that, instead of coming back every five years, they’re doing it every year now. But still, that doesn’t mean anything unless that actually leads to increased ambition and if they actually fulfill those ambitions.

As we all know, or as we might know, the so-called “f-word” was included for the first time in this document: fossil fuel. Which makes you wonder what they have been doing these decades without even mentioning fossil fuels for a problem which, to a very, very large extent, is caused by fossil fuels. And instead of “phasing out” [coal, the document’s language became] “phasing down.” So, yeah, that is one very clear example.

And also, one question that was very up in the air was the question about finance for loss and damage and the Green Climate Fund, which they again failed to agree on. The money that has already been promised, the bare minimum that the so-called global north have promised that they will deliver, they failed to come to any conclusions, and it’s been postponed once again.


At the speech I gave in the U.N. General Assembly, I said, “How dare you!” Of course, I said many other things, but that was what people took out of it. And me being emotional and angry, yelling at world leaders. And then I thought that, Okay, now I have people’s attention, I will only speak facts. So in the speech [in Madrid] at COP25 after that, I basically only spoke about facts and numbers because so much attention was on that. And then people watched it, and it felt like no one understood a word I said. Because sometimes the news is just that I’m making a speech rather than what I have to say — very, very often. So that’s a way of trying to, I don’t know, surprise, if that’s the right word.

This point is important. Sometimes, people ask why I use this image of her. It’s because it’s the one that matters. No one cares when people give statistics about climate change. It’s so easy to forget. The only that has even begun to work is outright confrontation of the world’s elites. This is not an issue that we can deal with through standard politics of voting and then forgetting about it, even if we vote the “right people” in, whatever that means when dealing with the laws of physics, as Thunberg puts it elsewhere in the interview. She’s also correct that Biden is basically worthless on this:

If you call him a leader — I mean, it’s strange that people think of Joe Biden as a leader for the climate when you see what his administration is doing. The U.S. is actually expanding fossil fuel infrastructure. Why is the U.S. doing that? It should not fall on us activists and teenagers who just want to go to school to raise this awareness and to inform people that we are actually facing an emergency.

People ask us, “What do you want?” “What do you want politicians to do?” And we say, first of all, we have to actually understand what is the emergency. We are trying to find a solution of a crisis that we don’t understand. For example, in Sweden, we ignore — we don’t even count or include more than two-thirds of our actual emissions. How can we solve a crisis if we ignore more than two-thirds of it? So it’s all about the narrative. It’s all about, what are we actually trying to solve? Is it this emergency, or is it this emergency?

Hard to argue with her.

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