In a quietly delivered but devastating speech to members of Parliament on Tuesday 23 April (remember that date) 16 year old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg exposed the UK government for what it is: full of hot air, and rather deaf. “Did you hear what I just said?” she asked several times, “Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder…”
Referring to government claims to be the best performing industrial country in reducing emissions (see our last post) she was flatly dismissive. “The UK is,” she said, “..very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.
“Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester.
“And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.”
The Guardian reports that Greta was unimpressed by the responses of the politicians and the debate that followed in the House of Commons about the Extinction Revolution and School Strike movements. Her mantra when dealing with governments has been consistent: Never mind the words. Nothing matters apart from actions to halt emissions. She is impervious to flattery and insults, shielded by her Aspergers condition but also rather uncomfortable with the public profile she finds herself wielding.
“Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking,” she said. “We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling. Sometimes we just simply have to find a way.”
If you do nothing else today, read this speech. Our MP was unable to be there to hear it in person, but we’ve sent it to him. And we’ve asked him if he can hear us. Let’s hope he can; and that he’ll do something. It’s always been pretty serious, but now…it’s an emergency.