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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is interviewed during a "Fridays for Future" protest in front of the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm on October 9, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP via Getty Images)

Greta Thunberg Tells US Voters on Election Day Their Choice 'Will Affect Countless Generations to Come'

"Every election is a climate election."

Julia Conley

With the very future of the planet at stake, international climate leader Greta Thunberg on Tuesday called on U.S. voters to consider the impact the general election outcome will have on the people and natural systems of the world—not just now, but long into the future.

"Your vote will affect billions of people around the world. Your vote will affect countless generations to come," tweeted Thunberg. "Every election is a climate election."

Thunberg endorsed Democratic candidate Joe Biden over President Donald Trump last month, noting that while she never offered public support for political candidates in the past, "the upcoming U.S. elections is above and beyond all that."

The Swedish climate activist, who began the worldwide Fridays for Future movement, is an outspoken proponent for taking bold, far-reaching action to eliminate fossil fuel emissions. In 2019 she helped pressure the European Union to devote a quarter of its budget to solving the planetary crisis starting in 2021.

Biden has won applause from climate campaigners for making clear in his platform that shifting to a renewable energy economy will create millions of jobs for Americans and boost the economy, and for embracing the goal of achieving 100% clean electricity no later than 2035—15 years earlier than his Democratic primary platform had stated.   

By contrast, Trump has worked relentlessly to roll back more than 100 environmental and public health regulations during his four years in office, has aided fossil fuel companies instead of struggling families during the coronavirus pandemic, and withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement—leaving the world's second-largest carbon polluter without a commitment to track its carbon emissions or set goals for curbing emissions.   

Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris agreement as well as incorporating demands from progressives into his climate plan.

After Trump announced his intention to leave the agreement, the Institute of International and European Affairs released a report showing the "Trump effect" has made it more likely that other countries will renege on their climate commitments. 

"It's critically important for the entire movement that the US be a part of it," Lois Young, Belize's ambassador to the United Nations, told the climate coalition Climate Power 2020. "Other countries that are big emitters are saying, 'Well if the United States is not accountable, why should I be?'"

The Paris agreement has been criticized by progressives for years as being insufficiently ambitious to rapidly reduce global carbon emissions and mitigate the heating of the planet. 

But international advocates emphasize that the U.S. must recommit to working with its global partners to solve the climate crisis, rather than being led by a president who openly denies that the climate crisis exists and is causing destruction in communities across the U.S. and around the world.

"If Trump wins again, the chances of achieving anything like Paris compliance are very, very low," Tim Benton, who leads the Energy, Environment and Resources groups and the British think tank Chatham House, told Climate Power 2020. 

Several recent polls, including surveys from the New York Times and Siena College released on Sunday, show that climate action is a top concern for voters nationwide and in battleground states—giving hope to campaigners. 

Fifty-eight percent of respondents across the country said they were "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about their community potentially being harmed by the climate crisis, as the West Coast has been by wildfires, the Gulf Coast has by hurricanes and sea level rise, and the Midwest has by extreme drought. 

In the swing states of Arizona and Florida, 57% and 54%, respectively, said they were worried about being personally affected by the climate crisis. 

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