Greta at UN Summit: “People are ready for change”

“This has to stop,” said Greta Thunberg at the United Nations Summit in Spain, COP25, in yet another of her speeches which will go into history. This time around, she pointed out that since the Paris Agreement, global banks have invested 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars in fossil fuels.

“Almost nothing is being done. I believe that the biggest danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when in fact almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR,” she said.

UN Climate Summit: Special event on the climate emergency

“We have underestimated the threats we are facing. If nature fails, we fail as well. The mounting evidence that we are facing catastrophic risks and that we are running out of time provide scientific justification for declaring a state of planetary emergency.”
~ Johan Rockstrom, speaking at the UN Climate Summit in Spain, December 2019 – at around 8 minutes on the video above

“So please tell me, how do you react to these numbers without feeling at least some level of panic? How do you respond to the fact that basically nothing is being done about this without feeling the slightest bit of anger? And how do you communicate this without sounding alarmist? I would really like to know.”

Since the Paris Agreement, global banks have invested 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars in fossil fuels. One hundred companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. The G20 countries account for almost 80% of total emissions. The richest 10% of the world’s population produce half of our CO2 emissions, while the poorest 50% account for just one tenth. We indeed have some work to do, but some more than others.”

“Recently a handful of rich countries pledged to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases by so and so many per cent by this or that date, or to become climate neutral or net zero in so and so many years. This may sound impressive at first glance, but even though the intentions may be good, this is not leadership. This is not leading. This is misleading because most of these pledges do not include aviation, shipping, and imported and exported goods and consumption. They do, however, include the possibility of countries to offset their emissions elsewhere…”
~ Greta Thunberg, speaking that the UN Climate Summit in Spain, December 2019 – at around 26 minutes on the video above. Transcript

“Climate change is no longer an agenda of environment. It is an agenda that encompasses the whole economy. It is about industrial revolution. It is about modernising our way of thinking. It is about shaping a society, rebooting it, if you like, to be fit for future, to be fit for the societal challenges that we face, and to respond to the demands of the youth.”
~ Ms Elina Bardram, Head of the unit for International Relations in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action

“Here, we have witnessed the gutting of the already weak Paris Agreement, with the advance of dodgy carbon trading that will only exacerbate the climate crisis and harm southern communities.”
~ Sara Shaw, climate justice coordinator for Friends of the Earth International

Where we are at

By Eric – in Copenhagen

A lot can be said about the latest news on humanity’s self-made climate crisis, but at the moment it is probably sufficient simply to note that COP25 – the United Nations big climate summit in Spain – went from what at one point looked as if it would become a complete ‘moral bankruptcy declaration’ to, after all, closing with a lukewarm compromise which was better than expected, but still does not provide sufficient action or regulation on several key areas, such as the quota system, the obligatory national reduction grants or funding in relation to the catastrophe-stressed countries and developing countries in general.

2018 was a record year in terms of carbon emissions, and although we don’t have the data for 2019 yet, there is no doubt that the donkey cart cannot be pushed backwards in this way from one COP to the next.

Denmark stepped in with a new and glossy-looking climate law, but still hangs in the brake in most fields, ranging from transport to agriculture, energy supply, heating of homes, etc.

The EU declared a climate emergency but also hangs in the brake, although with remarable progress made under its new female leadership.

The situation with regard to the largest polluters and carbon-sinners such as China, USA, India, Russia, Brazil and Japan is very serious, and even worse in regard to the “black sheeps” of the world such as Australia, Poland and the Saudis.

Common to the ‘climate sinners’ in question is that the state leaders and governments in power in these countries are representatives of a nationalist and segregating neoconservative approach that largely and segregatively supports the classic fossil growth paradigm at the expense of climate, nature and social equality.

With the United States and Australia at the buttom end in terms of CO2e emissions per capita, it is crucial that the development is now seriously reversed among the countries with high-emission figures, and not least in India with 1.3 billion people, which – despite their per capita emissions being just 1/10 of the fossil culprits – are moving, knowingly, towards disaster if the country keeps driving its development and population growth on the use of coal instead of replacing it with renewable energy sources at a rapid pace.

All countries will have to contribute to the emissions reduction. However, our attention must be on large industrialised polluters. It you take the African continent, for instance, it is currently largely based on fossil sources, but even so, only about four per cent of the global emissions come from Africa. At the same time, the Africans will be most severely affected by climate problems in the years to come, where millions could be starving to death due to the climatic changes.

COP flop
This was a disastrous way for the 25th anniversary of the COP to be “celebrated”. There was absolutely nothing to celebrate.

25 years in which we have not gained much new knowledge about the science, but have acquired many times more knowledge the consequences. We have known for at least 50 years what the negative effects of our CO2 emissions would mean to the climate and the globe.

The speeches in Spain that were distributed worldwide highlight this very accurately, and many of these speakers were clearly frustrated about odd “one step forward and two backwards on climate choices.” 

Danish tv host speaks out
On Danish tv, climate expert and former tv-meteorologist Jesper Theilgård calls the world’s political leaders ‘small children’. The normally trustable and friendly meteorologist shakes his head and looks frustrated as the conversation turns to COP25. He struggles to clarify what could explain that these politicians – or small children as he calls them – on one hand are able to read all the reports that come in an endless stream about the various climate disasters, but on the other hand continue to act as if they are blind, retarded hamsters.

The issue really cannot be explained by anything other than just the fear of not being re-elected, he says. The politicians don’t want to spend money on anything other than what immediately seems to please their electorate. However, even if it is a valid explanation, it is hardly comprehensive.

The tv host leans forward and looks the meteorologist deep in the eyes as he asks; “How do you feel, honestly, when you now know this about the climate and then see how little the politicians take action or take responsibility for doing what obviously needs to get done?” 

We cannot wait another year to consider what should be talked about and agreed at COP26 on a sad November day in the otherwise excellent city of Glasgow. There is a need for concrete action starting today and continuing tomorrow – and it will have to be a completely different ballgame if it is not to be illusory that the temperature rise could be kept below the 1.5 degrees average global heating.

Now it the time to put a usable, global CO2 quota system in place, and also we need both national and international ‘polluter pays’ CO2 schemes.

The money must go out of the pockets of the wealthy nations to compensate the most affected or developing countries, where the people have done little to cause these extreme weather disasters.

Obviously, necessary binding agreements on reductions must be put in place, and it is not for the poorest and most distressed ones to hold on to this. On the contrary, those who sin and profit from it must be held accountable. How hard can it be to figure that one out?

We have infinite amounts of usable data and knowledge available, but it appears to be longer between clear and precise analyzes of why the donkey cart is in reverse in the interaction between politicians, the population, large capital and companies.

Most people today would not accept the looting, murder and predatory behavior of natural resources, as during the colonial period, which laid the foundation for the modern world’s industrialisation and the inequality-creating growth society where an abundance of fossil energy has been the fuel of the party.

Today, it is the “emperor’s new clothes” – as described by the Danish author H. C. Andersen more than a century ago. Many people still indicate that they do not see the most obvious – that CO2 is one of the very central elements of photosynthesis and thus the basis of life in a biological and physical sense, which can only work in a circular orbit where the same assumptions about balance that apply in any household budget are the premise.

This is what we have to change.

→ BBC – 15 December 2019:
COP25: Longest climate talks end with compromise deal
“The longest United Nations climate talks on record have finally ended in Madrid with a compromise deal.”

→ The Independent – 15 December 2019:
‘The eyes of the people are on us’: Anger boils over at climate summit as rich nations refuse to offer serious commitments
‘We have witnessed the gutting of the already weak Paris Agreement, with the advance of dodgy carbon trading that will only exacerbate the climate crisis’

→ CNN – 15 December 2019:
‘If the climate stays like this, we won’t make it’ say those on the frontline of Africa’s drought
“45 million at risk in Southern Africa’s hunger crisis.” (Video)

“Worst air records ever recorded”

“We’re seeing air quality at its worst it has ever been. If this isn’t what climate change looks like, then God help us when it does hit us. This is exactly what scientists told us would happen with regard to climate change.”
~ Matt Kean, New South Wales environment minister – on ABC 7:30 News

“So tell your children you are sorry for what is going on with the climate, but it’s not their fault or yours. Tell them some bad people made it too hard to do anything until it was too late. Tell them you will vote for people that might help with the problem. Maybe if we elect the right leaders, and they do the right things there is still time.”
~ Glen Henrix, Age of Awareness blog on

→ Medium – 27 March 2019:
Quit Obsessing About Climate Change. What You Do or Don’t Do No Longer Matters.

“We are hurtling towards a climate catastrophe engineered by the hubris of a tiny power-elite and our own unthinking, complicit greed.”
~ Jonathan Cook

“We all conspired in the planet’s destruction”

By Jonathan Cook – 1 October 2019

“Greta Thunberg and her generation are living on a dying planet, a planet the older generation – through their greed, their alienation from the natural world, and their spiritual emptiness – plundered and despoiled with no thought for those who would follow them.

The people who organized the pillage are our leaders, an elite that dominate the economy and control our politics and the media. But we all conspired in the planet’s destruction. We bought the unnecessary goods they produced and marketed. We believed in their fairy tale of endless growth on a finite planet. We allowed ourselves to be distracted with mindless entertainment while the planet grew hotter and choked on our pollution.

Our generation carried out a slash-and-burn policy across the entire surface of the planet, leaving our children with no sanctuary while the Earth spends centuries recovering. The most venerated among the grown-ups, our business leaders, wonder whether we can now travel into space to start all over again. And some call Thunberg childish!

The idea that any adult has the right to tell Thunberg and the millions of other children we betrayed that they should simply shut up, stop the strikes and go back to school to finish their studies is ludicrous – and insulting. Teach them what? Teach them the same foolishness, the same selfishness that we were raised on in those educational production lines that turned us into compliant, consumption-loving drones? Do these children really need yet more of the neoliberal brainwashing that prevents most adults from going on strike too to save the planet?”

We hear you, Greta. So here’s the climate science

By Brian Roewe, NCR staff writer, EarthBeat Weekly – a weekly newsletter about faith and climate change, 13 December 2019

There was a lot of attention paid to Greta Thunberg this week. And rightfully so. On Wednesday, Time magazine named the Swedish teen climate activist its Person of the Year. That same day, in Madrid, she addressed world leaders and diplomats at the COP 25 United Nations climate summit.

And a day later, the president of the United States of America took to trolling the 16 year old on Twitter, which came two days after Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro called her a “brat.” (In both cases, Thunberg responded by making the verbal barbs part of her Twitter bio.)

If given the choice, I’d guess Thunberg hoped what most people paid the most attention was her speech at COP 25. But not just the buzzy parts. Thunberg said while she’s learned from her year and a half in the global spotlight that beginning a speech with something personal or emotional can help grab attention, she’d avoid that this time. “Because then those phrases are all that people focus on.” “They don’t remember the facts, the very reason why I say those things in the first place,” she said.

“We no longer have time to leave out the science. For about a year, I have been constantly talking about our rapidly declining carbon budgets, over and over again. But since that is still being ignored, I will just keep repeating it.”

We hear you, Greta. And in that spirit, we are highlighting here the science portions of Thunberg’s speech:

“In chapter 2, on page 108, in the SR 1.5 IPCC report that came out last year, it says that if we are to have a 67% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we had on Jan. 1, 2018, 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit in that budget.” – Here’s the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report she is citing.

“And of course, that number is much lower today, as we emit about 42 gigatons of CO2 every year, including land use. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining budget will be gone within about 8 years.” – That point is visually illustrated by the Carbon Clock created by Germany’s Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. Thunberg went on to say that the numbers are “the current best available science,” and they didn’t address equity in terms of richer, more emitting countries carrying a larger share of carbon reduction efforts — a point made repeatedly by the Vatican and Catholic organizations.

“The approximate 67% chance budget is the one with the highest odds given by the IPCC. And now we have less than 340 gigatons of CO2 left to emit in that budget to share fairly. And why is it so important to stay below 1.5 degrees? Because even at 1 degree, people are dying from the climate crisis. Because that is what the united science calls for to avoid destabilizing the climate, so that we have the best possible chance to avoid setting off irreversible chain reactions, such as melting glaciers, polar ice and thawing arctic permafrost. Every fraction of a degree matters.” – The IPCC 1.5 report found that average global temperature rise of 2 C, compared to 1.5 C, would expose 420 million more people to severe heatwaves and 10 million more to risks brought by rising seas, while nearly wiping out all the world’s coral reef and expanding Arctic summers without sea ice to once per decade, compared to once a century. The planet has already warmed 1 C since the late 1800s, and is on pace to reach 3 C by the end of the century. An analysis by the Washington Post this year found about 20% of the planet has already warmed by 1.5 C.

“So there it is again,” Thunberg said. “This is my message. This is what I want you to focus on.” She added: “So please tell me, how do you react to these numbers without feeling at least some level of panic? How do you respond to the fact that basically nothing is being done about this without feeling the slightest bit of anger? And how do you communicate this without sounding alarmist? I would really like to know.”

Watch Thunberg’s full address to COP 25 here. And read the Time Person of the Year article on Thunberg, along with their explanation of the pick.

→ One hour live stream on Youtube:
Greta Thunberg holds news conference in Madrid during COP 25

CNN asks Time’s environmental writer Justin Worland: Why Greta for ‘Person of the year’?

→ Time – December 2019:
Time 2019 Person of the year: Greta Thunberg

→ The Guardian – 12 December 2019:
Greta Thunberg named Time magazine’s person of the year
“Teen activist lauded by magazine for starting an environmental campaign which became a global movement”

“Build an army”

In the TedTalk, Jane Fonda explains why she has joined Greta Thunberg’s FridaysForFuture movement:

Jane Fonda: “First of all, you want to try not do anything as a lone individual. You know, it’s by our powers combined. There’s strength in numbers. There’s also community in numbers, and one of the hardest things about what we’re facing now is: this is a collective crisis, coming at a time when the whole notion of the collective, of the commons, of the public sphere, is being eroded quite deliberately by neoliberalism and conservatism. And so reconnecting with groups of people, like-minded people in a common action, is solace to the soul. It gives you such strength. It’s a great antidote to depression. So find out what organizations that are concerned about the climate crisis are in your area.”

“I was very inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish student, and by the young school climate strikers. Greta says we’ve got to get out of our comfort zone. We have to behave like our house is burning, because it is. And so she really struck a chord in me. And then, learning that just about 100 percent of climate scientists agree. They agree that a drastic emergency is upon us, that it is human-caused. But they said we can do something about it. We have the time, the technology, the tools. We have everything we need except political will to meet the challenge, and it’s an enormous challenge. We have 11 years, many say, a decade, and I thought, “Oh, I’m so lucky that I am healthy and living in a decade where we who are alive can actually make the difference. We can make the difference as to whether there’s going to be a livable future or not. What a glorious responsibility we have. We have to step up to the plate.”

And when you’re famous, there’s a lot of things that you can do. You have a bigger platform. So I decided that, like Greta, I was going to put my body on the line and move to the center of American power, Washington, DC, and have a rally every Friday like the students do. And we work with the students. They speak at my rallies, and I speak at their rallies. And then after we speak, we engage in civil disobedience and risk getting arrested. Civil disobedience is a powerful tool that has changed history many times, both in the United States in the ’60s during the civil rights movement, of course in India with Mahatma Gandhi. And I didn’t know in the beginning if it was going to work or not, but it’s made me very happy to see what’s happening.”


→ UNFCCC – 10 December 2019:
Call for All Countries to Commit to Climate Education by COP26
“Italy and Mexico today committed to stepped-up climate and environmental education in order to equip a new generation with the knowledge, awareness and skills needed to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges, and called on other countries to follow suit.”