Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has spoken out in a video message about the “distant, hypothetical targets being set” on the climate crisis and “empty words” being used by governments.
Five years since the Paris Agreement, a deal adopted by 196 countries on 12 December 2015, Ms Thunberg says “the action needed is still nowhere in sight”.
The 17-year-old activist addressed her 10.5 million Instagram followers in a video, urging them to #FightFor1point5.
This is a reference to the ambition set out in the Paris accord to halt the average rise in world temperatures to 1.5C more than pre-industrial levels.
The teenager warned that in spite of this, at the rate we are heading, “our remaining CO2 budget of 1.5 degrees will be gone within seven years”.
The United Nations and research groups said last week that pledges made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would lead to 3C more warming this century, despite the fall in emissions caused by lockdowns and the pandemic.
The UN’s Environment Programme found in its annual assessment that the 7 per cent fall in carbon pollution recorded in 2020 would have a “negligible impact” on global warming generally. They warned that countries need to undertake a rapid shift away from using fossil fuels.
The 27 EU member states agreed on Friday to increase their 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target to at least 55 per cent of levels recorded in 1990. This is compared to the current pledge of 40 per cent.
The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, confirmed the news on Twitter, calling Europe “the leader in the fight against climate change”. This was following the decision made in Brussels, Belgium.
Despite this, Ms Thunberg warned: “When it comes to the immediate action we need, we are still in a state of complete denial as we waste our time creating new loopholes with empty words.”
The climate activist is the leader of the Fridays for Future climate protest movement. The movement was founded in 2018 by the then 15-year-old Ms Thunberg, who decided to begin a school strike to protest against global warming. This was the beginning of a global school strike for climate change.
The five years since the Paris accord have been the five hottest years ever recorded and, in her video, Ms Thunberg urged people to take action, and stop “living as if there was no tomorrow”.
She was keen to point out that “we cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis”, and urged people to “unite” and “spread awareness”.
Despite this, Ms Thunberg concluded the address on a more positive note saying: “There is hope … We are the hope we, the people.”