Climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the world's elite face-to-face at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday where she called on leaders to end their abhorrent and irrefutable failures on the climate emergency and demanded participants "from all the companies, banks, institutions, and governments" in attendance to immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, end fossil fuel subsidies, and divest from all fossil fuels.
"We don't want these things done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021. We want this done now."
—Greta Thunberg"We don't want these things done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021," Thunberg said. "We want this done now."
"One year ago, I came to Davos and told your that our house is on fire," she told participants at the annual gathering in Switzerland. "I said I wanted you to panic. I've been warned that telling people to panic about the climate crisis is a very dangerous thing to do, but don't worry—it's fine—I've done this before and I can assure you: it doesn't lead to anything."
Speaking shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump also spoke at the annual summit, hosted by the World Economic Forum, Thunberg rejected the false solutions and half-measures that elected leaders continue to offer even as they allow emissions to increase, new drilling projects to begin, and prove how unserious they are in the face of the looming and existential crisis.
"We don't need to 'lower emissions'—our emissions have to stop," she said, "if we are to have chance to stay below the 1.5°C target" set forth in the Paris climate agreement.
"And until we have the technologies that at scale can put our emissions to minus, then we must forget about 'net zero.' We need real zero," Thunberg said. "Because distant 'net zero' targets will mean nothing if we just continue to ignore the carbon dioxide budget that applies for today not distant future dates. If high emissions continue like now even for a few years that remaining will be completely used up."
Thunberg is far from alone her demand for a total halt to the financial sector's support of the fossil fuel industry. Earlier this January, as Common Dreams reported, a coalition of nearly two dozen groups in the United States launched a major new campaign, Stop the Money Pipeline, that aims to "end the financing of climate destruction" by demanding major banks and financial institutions end investments in coal, oil, and gas.
"Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else."
—Greta ThunbergWhile Thunberg said the world should rightly be upset at Trump for pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, she said that other world leaders cannot be let off the hook for their failures.
"Any plan or policy of yours that doesn't include radical emissions cuts—at the source, starting today—is completely insufficient," she said.
"Let's be clear: we don't need a low carbon economy; we don't need to lower emissions. Our emissions have to stop if we are to have a chance to stay below the 1.5 degree target," she said. "Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else."
Thunberg reminded the Davos crowd that the youth climate movement is not interested in the partisan bickering of national politics. "From a sustainability perspective, the right, the left, as well as the center—have all failed. No political ideology or economic structure has been able to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a 'cohesive and sustainable' world," she said. "Because that world, in case you haven't noticed, is currently on fire."
Thunberg scolded leaders who have told the children of the world not to worry about the climate crisis, who have said in so many words: "leave this to us—we will fix this." But then, she said, these same leaders do nothing and instead of the progress or action there is "silence" from both government and business.
"Or something worse than silence," she continued, "empty words and promise that give the impression that sufficient action is being taken."