Sunday

15th Dec 2019

Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today

  • "We can still fix climate, but we must start today," Greta Thunberg told 40,000 people marching in Copenhagen for climate on the eve of EU and national elections (Photo: EUobserver)

"If the EU really decided to face the ongoing climate emergency and try to act with the necessary force then this would have a huge global impact," Swedish student and global climate idol, Greta Thunberg, said on the eve of European Parliament (EP) elections.

Speaking in the Danish capital, Copenhagen on Saturday (25 May), the 16-year old urged voters to take the climate crisis to heart when voting in the EP and later in national Danish elections, to be held 5 June.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Denmark does not have a Green party, but long-serving MEP, Margrete Auken's Socialist People’s Party is polled a good election result on the climate ticket. Here she is flanked by party chairman Pia Olsen Dyhr at the climate march in Copenhagen (Photo: EUobserver)

"We are about 500 million people living in the EU and we use about one fifth of the world's resources. What we do in the EU has enormous impact for future living conditions on this planet," she said.

"Of course you would think the EU elections should be about this", she said: "But it is not".

"In fact, global emissions are still rising. Despite all the beautiful words and promises of our leaders and politicians," she told the cheering crowds.

It was the young Swede's first public appearance in Denmark where her climate activism has struck a strong nerve among young people and prompted school strikes on Fridays, just like in many other cities around the world.

In particular, girls aged 10-12 were present in the thousands at the march on Saturday in Copenhagen, whereas fewer young boys were seen in the crowds.

It was one of the biggest public demonstrations for years in Copenhagen, gathering 40,000 people, according to police estimates.

But Thunberg did not offer much praise for the climate efforts of the city, which housed the 2009 United Nations climate change conference and has announced it will become the world's first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025.

"Words like carbon-neutral Copenhagen 2025 sounds really beautiful, but if it does not include transportation, shopping, food, aviation and shipping, then it does not really mean that much," she said.

"Sending these messages that real action is going on when it really is not does probably more harm than good," the young climate campaigner said tot huge applause from the Copenhagen residents.

"Elections should be all about this," Thunberg said.

"Those going to be affected the most by the climate and ecological crisis, young people like me - can not vote. So if not for yourself, then vote for us," she said.

"We can still fix this, but we must start today".

The EU's first climate commissioner, former conservative politician, Connie Hedegaard, also spoke at the rally.

She is no longer active in politics, but has continued her green battle from within the board rooms of large companies and foundations.

Speaking alongside Thunberg in Copenhagen on Saturday, Hedegaard struck a more positive note.

"Words are no longer enough. We want to see action," she said and praised that climate is now on top of the political agenda and that there will be binding five-year climate goals resulting from the next Danish national elections.

The Danish agro-industry recently signed up to CO2 neutral targets under pressure from Danish consumers rapid change of eating and shopping behaviour, reducing meat consumption.

She also noted that Volkswagen, the worlds largest car maker, has put a due-date for production of the last fossil-fuel driven car and has started to invest massively in development of electrical cars.

It has probably been a long time since the diesel scandal hit Volkswagen last time got a huge round of public applause. But it happened in Copenhagen on Saturday.

EU investors must in future demonstrate the climate impact of their investments, public investments must be green, Hedegaard said and added, as another positive development, that 23 central bank directors, including the Danish one, recently pledged to include climate risks into economical calculations.

"Public pressure and political engagement move things", Hedegaard said.

Denmark does not have a Green party, but the climate issue has climbed to be top of the agenda for most political parties.

The other big issue in Danish elections relates to border and migration control, pushed by the Danish People's party and two new further to the right parties, running for national elections.

The latest polls predict the Social Democrats and the Liberal parties will do best in Sunday's EU elections, with the Danish people's party losing two of the four mandates it scored in the last EU elections in 2014.

Denmark elects 13 MEPs and will get one extra seat when the UK leaves the EU.

Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election

Belgians will be electing MPs to six parliaments, on top of the European Parliament, with Greens expected to fare well at both the federal and regional levels.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Four states block EU 2050 carbon neutral target

Poland, with the support from the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Estonia, blocked a commitment to climate neutrality by 2050. It is now just a footnote in the summit conclusions.

Stakeholder

Brussels welcomes Nordic culture

Brussels will play host to more than 400 Nordic artists and creative practitioners this autumn, organised by one of Europe's most influential cultural institutions, BOZAR.

News in Brief

  1. EU Scream podcast wins media award
  2. Sturgeon will set out Scottish independence plan next week
  3. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  4. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  5. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  6. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  7. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  8. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU values face scrutiny This WEEK
  2. EU sighs relief after 'decisive' Johnson victory in UK
  3. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  4. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  5. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  6. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  7. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  8. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us