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Greta Thunberg Thanks OPEC Chief for Suggesting Climate Campaigners Pose 'Greatest Threat' to Oil Sector

"Our biggest compliment yet!"

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivers her speech during the demonstration 'Fridays for Future' in Piazza del Popolo, on April 19, 2019 in Rome, Italy. (Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg turned to Twitter Thursday to thank a key fossil fuel leader for suggesting that climate campaigners—including youth who have joined the global "Fridays for Future" movement Thunberg inspired with her school strikes outside Sweden's parliament last year—greatly threaten the oil sector.

"Thank you!" tweeted Thunberg, whose climate leadership earned her a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. "Our biggest compliment yet!"

Earlier this week, after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, the organization's Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo reportedly claimed that "unscientific" attacks by climate activists are "perhaps the greatest threat to our industry going forward."

According to the Agence France-Presse report which Thunberg linked to on Twitter:

Barkindo said that as extreme weather events linked to the climate crisis became more common, "there is a growing mass mobilization of world opinion... against oil."

"Civil society is being misled to believe oil is the cause of climate change," he said.

...[H]e said children of some colleagues at OPEC's headquarters "are asking us about their future because... they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry."

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Barkindo added that the "mobilization" against oil was "beginning to... dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry."

Although he did not mention any specifics, Barkindo also said that "we believe this industry is part of the solution to the scourge of climate change."

OPEC's mission "is to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry."

The energy organization's 14 member nations are Algeria, Angola, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Bill McKibben, co-founder of the advocacy group 350.org, tweeted a message to activists Thursday in response to the OPEC chief's remarks: "Wow! Wow! Wow! ...Thanks everyone for your good work!"

Barkindo's comments come as the youth movement—also commonly called #SchoolStrikeForClimate—is planning a worldwide strike for September, and amid mounting research on how the fossil fuel industry endangers the planet. A study published in the journal Nature on Monday warned that existing dirty energy infrastructure jeopardizes the Paris climate agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

"The new study reiterates that visionary climate solutions must justly transition away from fossil fuels, starting with an acknowledgement that 1.5°C carbon budgets must account for planned and new emitting projects," Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, North America director for 350.org, said in a statement Wednesday.

"This report reinforces the need for complete economic restructuring by way of a Green New Deal that creates millions of jobs for workers in a 100 percent renewable economy and actively keeps fossil fuels in the ground," she added. "We stand by the science, and furthermore demand that fossil fuel billionaires pay for the damage they have caused to people and planet."

This post has been updated with comment from Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.

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