The “Greta Thunberg” effect

Tuesday, 2019-10-01 12:21:42
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Environmental activist Greta Thunberg addresses the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations General Assembly.
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NDO – Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg gave a powerful and emotional speech that strongly impressed world leaders during the recent high-level week of the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States. Since then, the global anti-climate change movement has continued to spread vigorously in many countries around the world.

Addressing the UN Climate Action Summit a few days ago, the 16-year-old Swedish girl condemned the world leaders for failing to take adequate action to combat climate change. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg frankly stated. She called on the world to “act immediately” in order to avoid the worst consequences. Earlier, a protest movement for the environment titled “Fridays for the Future” launched by Thunberg every Friday has spread across many countries, attracting millions of students to participate.

However, the wave of climate strikes has become particularly vibrant in recent days after the Swedish girl “awakened” the whole world with her message at the UN forum. In Canada, more than 300,000 people took part in environmental protests in Montreal. At a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal on September 27, Thunberg told the leader that Canada has yet to act enough for the fight against climate change. Canada is among the 10 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions. In reply, PM Trudeau stated that if he is re-elected, the government of the Liberal Party will plant two billion trees in 10 years and help to create 3,500 seasonal jobs each year. The Liberal Party previously pledged efforts to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 in case of winning the elections this month.

The “Greta Thunberg” effect has also spread in many other countries over the weekend. In Switzerland, about 100,000 people marched along the streets of Berne on September 28 calling for action to stop climate change. The match took place just three weeks before the parliamentary elections. Earlier, over 30,000 people in The Hague (Netherlands) joined in a climate strike, calling on the government to implement a more ambitious climate policy.

Not only creating positive effects in the streets, Thunberg’s messages also heated the discussion forum of world leaders attending the ongoing General Debate under the framework of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74). During a session last weekend, Zambian President Edgar Lungu said: “Climate change is frustrating efforts to raise the standard of living for the world’s poor. The impact of climate change requires global collaborative efforts”. Meanwhile, President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili raised a warning that many lands have been turned into deserts, encroached by seawater or devastated by storms, such as the recent typhoon devastating the Bahamas or the Amazon rainforest wildfires. She stressed the need for humanity to be aware of its responsibility to act and protect the Earth for the sake of future generations.

Right ahead of and during the UN meeting on climate change, a number of countries had to declare a state of emergency because of the environmental problems caused by climate change. In late September, the Austrian Parliament adopted a resolution declaring a climate emergency, making the fight against climate change a top priority in the country’s development policy. In Japan, the Iki City Council in Nagasaki Prefecture also issued a “climate emergency”. Meanwhile, the UK Parliament has recently passed a resolution on a “climate emergency”, becoming the first legislative body in the world to declare this situation. According to US environmental experts, up to now, more than 1,000 local governments in cities and towns worldwide have declared a “climate emergency”.

Researchers say that climate change and irresponsible behaviour of humans are seriously devastating oceans, and it is time for fighting climate change to become an immediate necessity for every government and each individual on the planet. In its special assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that since 2005 sea levels have been rising 2.5 times faster than in the 20th century, and the rising speed is projected to be four times faster by 2100 if CO2 emissions fail to decline.

In the aforementioned context, the strong messages from Greta Thunberg to world leaders as well as all citizens around the globe have been received and have produced a strong spillover effect. Hopefully, the waves of environmental strikes mentioned above will soon transform into “green waves” as all governments and citizens on Earth unite to reduce emissions, protect forests and seas, and plant more green trees.