Greta Thunberg is a fifteen year old Swedish schoolgirl, and she has been very busy these last few months. In August this year, she organised a school strike. She and other school students took time out from their lessons to sit outside the Swedish parliament every day during school hours with a sign saying ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ (School strike for the climate). They demanded that the government reduce carbon emissions per the Paris Agreement. These strikes continue on Fridays to this day, and have been replicated in other countries including The Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Denmark and Australia.
In November she spoke at TEDx Stockholm where she said that, since she was eight years old, she has wondered why, if humans are changing the whole climate of the Earth, it is not headline news on every channel, why it is not at the top of every news agenda, ‘As if there was a world war going on.’
Looking forward to her 75th birthday in 2078, she wondered if her children and grandchildren would ask her about the people around back in 2018, ‘Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.’
‘There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground,’ she concluded. ‘So we can’t change the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.’
Before the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) started in Poland in early December, she addressed the UN secretary general António Guterres, saying, ‘For 25 years countless of people have stood in front of the United Nations climate conferences, asking our nation’s leaders to stop the emissions. But, clearly, this has not worked since the emissions just continue to rise.’ She told him that, ‘The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.’
At the COP24 plenary session on 12 December she told the hall that they only spoke of green eternal economic growth, ‘because you are too scared of being unpopular.’ Driving the message home, she said, ‘You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.’
‘Our civilisation is being sacrificed,’ she said, ‘for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.’
‘We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. You have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people,’ she concluded.
Maybe we should all be sat in the Royal Square on Fridays until we get legislation mandating regeneration of our living soil, some positive landscape rewilding plans, and no-take zones to protect the sad remains of the life in our seas. To improve air quality, we need significant public transport improvements, more safe cycle paths and secure bike parking. We need new import duties to penalise the importation of noxious and harmful materials into the island. We also have every right to ask for some serious government divestment from ecocidal fossil fuel interests, and much less support from Jersey’s finance industry for the world’s worst polluters and destroyers.
A shortened version of this article appeared in the Jersey Evening Post during the week ending 28 December 2018