Climate change “negotiators” got a hard lesson in their own shortcomings – from a minor.
Greta Thunberg is only 15, but she packed more maturity into her three-minute speech than we’ve seen in decades of mealy-mouthed “negotiations” between representatives of national and international economic interests.
The Swedish activist shamed her elders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP24, where representatives eventually managed to reach a weak agreement over how to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But everybody there knew they weren’t doing nearly enough to achieve that goal, which is why Ms Thunberg’s words had such bite.
Here’s her speech:
“You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) December 18, 2018
“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is,” she told an audience entirely composed of her elders (but clearly not her betters). “Even that burden you leave to us children.
“Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.
“It is the sufferings of the many that pay for the luxuries of the few… We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.”
She also said: “You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.”
Now consider the current court case in the UK over plans by our Conservative government to expand fracking.
If ever there was an example of the many suffering to support the luxuries of the few – the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money – it is the fracking industry in the United Kingdom.
The current case highlights new planning guidance by the government which makes it easier to establish fracking sites. The document orders local authorities to facilitate the establishment of such sites, and proposes the removal of the need for new wells to get planning permission.
The government did not carry out any assessment of the impact its plans would have on the environment, and the guidance was imposed on the country without any public consultation.
It seems clear that James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, qualifies as one of the people Ms Thunberg describes as “not mature enough to tell it like it is.”
So do former prime minister David Cameron and his successor Theresa May. At a time when sustainable energy has never been cheaper or easier to supply, one is led to ask why they continue to kowtow to fossil fuel corporates like Cuadrilla bosses Roy Franklin and Francis Egan.
Fracking at Cuadrilla’s only UK site, in Lancashire, was halted again on December 11 after yet another earth tremor was caused by the process. This one measured 1.5 on the Richter scale, causing a woman who lives 1.6 miles from the site to say she heard a loud “bang” and her house shook. A Cuadrilla spokesperson said the effect would have been “like dropping a melon”.
We may conclude from this that the spokesperson is “not mature enough to tell it like it is” either.
But what is to be done in the face of such monumental selfishness, such wilful ignorance, such naked greed?
I’d like to think change is coming, whether the government figures and corporates named above like it or not – but I don’t think it will, unless somebody does something shocking.
I think someone would have to grab Messrs Cameron, Brokenshire, Egan and Franklin, along with Mrs May, drag them to the fracking well in Lancashire, and throw them down it – and then fill it in on top of them.
That’s what it would take to get these people to look up from counting their money and pay attention – the threat of extreme sanction.
But I can’t advocate such extreme measures – and the system is skewed in favour of the privileged. So what’s to be done?
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