As with most things this past year, climate campaigning has taken a back seat to the pandemic, following what many regarded as a breakthrough year for environmental activism in 2019.
But that doesn’t mean the issue has gone away, and according to Greta Thunberg, it’s more important than ever that we use this year to renew our focus on the fight against climate change.
Speaking ahead of a panel event with the Dalai Lama this weekend, January 9, Thunberg told People:
My hope for 2021 is that we see an awakening when it comes to the climate and environment, [and] that we start to treat this crisis like the crisis it is… and understand what needs to be done— understand that we have failed and that we need to take real bold action right now, that we cannot afford to wait any longer.
Thunberg, who recently turned 18, admitted that the pandemic posed a ‘frustrating’ challenge to the momentum of climate campaigning, with activists no longer able to participate in the mass Fridays For Future rallies and strikes that came to characterise the movement.
Computer models have suggested that the first wave of lockdowns last spring resulted in a sharp drop in carbon emissions, largely down to the lack of traveling and temporary closing down of industry. And Thunberg believes that the impact of the pandemic on society has only reinforced the importance of acting now to take the climate crisis seriously, saying that it has ‘shown us that we are not living sustainable’ and that ‘we cannot, we will not, make it without listening to science’.
Although many countries have set significant environmental targets for the next decade, experts continue to warn that governments around the world are still not doing anywhere near enough to reduce their environmental impact. There are signs of hope, however, most notably with the incoming Biden administration set to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, just over a year after the United States officially withdrew under President Trump.
While Thunberg calls the move a ‘crucial step,’ she’s also warned that governments can’t afford to become complacent.
Thunberg told People:
We need to make sure that right now, we don’t relax and fall back asleep because we think, ‘Oh, the U.S. is back in the Paris Agreement, now things will turn out okay.’ We need to continue pushing even harder now.
Announcing these kinds of distant hypothetical goals and targets that don’t actually do something today … it sends a signal that things are being done and that action’s being taken when it’s not.
The Woodwell Climate Research Center and Mind & Life Institute panel featuring Thunberg and the Dalai Lama will be live streamed on Facebook this Saturday at 10.30pm EST.
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Topics: News, Climate Change, Global Warming, Greta Thunberg, Now