It’s been two years since Greta Thunberg first took her solo school strike for the climate, as she recently stated that the world has wasted the time by failing to take the essential action on the crisis.
Since 2018, Thunberg’s strike has inspired a global movement, as on the 20th August, she and other leading school strikers met Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the European council. They met to demand a halt to all fossil fuel investments and subsidies and the establishment of annual, binding carbon budgets based on the best science.
“Looking back, a lot has happened. Many millions have taken to the streets and on 28 November 2019, the European parliament declared a climate and environmental emergency,” Thunberg said in an article for the Guardian with fellow strikers.
“But over these last two years, the world has also emitted over 80bn tonnes of CO2. We have seen continuous natural disasters taking place across the globe. Many lives and livelihoods have been lost, and this is only the very beginning.”
Thunberg and her colleagues said fighting the climate emergency must involve rich nations stopping some of their polluting activities. “However, it’s a fact which most people refuse to accept. Just the thought of being in a crisis that we cannot buy, build or invest our way out of seems to create some kind of collective mental short-circuit. This mix of ignorance, denial and unawareness is the very heart of the problem,” they said.
The trillions of dollars being spent by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic are seen as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put the world on the right path to halt global heating, with economists, scientists and health experts all saying the benefits would outweigh the costs.
Although, G20 government’s rescue packages are giving significantly more support to fossil fuels than to low-carbon energy. As Germany’s recovery plan includes €40bn for climate measures such as electric vehicles, public transport and energy efficiency have all been been praised by green groups. But elsewhere across the planet, too little is being done, Thunberg and colleagues said.
Scientists have calculated that global carbon emissions must be cut by half by the end of this decade if humanity is to have a realistic chance of keeping temperature rises to below 1.5C, the limit set in the Paris climate deal.
Researchers have stated that during the coronavirus lockdown’s, there has been a fall in emissions, but they are only a small blip in a long-term rising trend and will have a “negligible” effect on the climate crisis, therefore more action needs to be taken on the issue.
Within the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £350 million investment to help cut emissions in heavy industry and drive economic recovery from coronavirus. Including a green home grant scheme, which will see low energy efficient homes receive grants up to £10,000.
Over the past decade, the UK has cut carbon emissions by more than any similar developed country. In 2019, UK emissions were 42% lower than in 1990, while our economy over the same period grew by 72%.
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