Greta Thunberg in 2023.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a press conference at the UNFCCC SB58 Bonn Climate Change Conference on June 13, 2023 in Bonn, Germany.

(Photo: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)

'These Processes Are Failing': Greta Thunberg Calls Out World Leaders as Bonn Talks Founder

The climate activist said that not phasing out fossil fuels "will be a death sentence to countless of people."

Climate activist Greta Thunberg issued an urgent warning at the U.N. climate conference in Bonn, Germany, Tuesday about what would happen if world leaders do not ensure a "rapid and equitable" phaseout of fossil fuels in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Failing to do so, she said on a panel, "will be a death sentence to countless of people."

"It is already a death sentence to countless of people living on the front lines of the climate crisis today," she continued.

The Bonn climate talks are seen as a precursor to the COP28 U.N. climate conference scheduled to begin in the UAE in late November. The conference has already courted controversy stemming from the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to serve as its president, leading to concerns that negotiations will not advance a global phaseout of fossil fuels—by far the leading cause of climate warming emissions.

While al-Jaber has said that "the phasedown of fossil fuels is inevitable," he has not promised to put such a phase down on the official conference agenda, The Guardian pointed out.

Thunberg warned that failing to abandon fossil fuels would have devastating consequences.

"We're still rushing towards the cliff and we are at the verge of potential tipping points that once we pass them, there might be no going back."

"We're still rushing towards the cliff and we are at the verge of potential tipping points that once we pass them, there might be no going back," Thunberg said, as Reuters reported.

The news service also noted that a new report released at Bonn from Climate Analytics outlined how to avoid Thunberg's cliff and keep the 1.5 goal alive: increase new wind and solar capacity by a factor of five and reduce the production of fossil fuels by 6% each year until 2030.

The group said that renewables should generate 70% of global electricity by the end of the decade, while fossil fuel use should fall by 40% within the same time span.

"As we ramp up renewables, we can't forget the elephant in the negotiating room—fossil fuels," study author Claire Fyson said at a press conference reported by Reuters.

One solution advanced by some, especially in the oil and gas industry, is to continue burning fossil fuels but then remove their carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere through carbon capture and storage (CCS). However, the report found that this technology as it is now would be of minimal help this decade.

"When looking specifically at the power sector, we find that carbon capture and storage would be used for a maximum 0.1% of global electricity production in 2030," Fyson added.

Al-Jaber himself has come under fire for backing CCS despite the fact that its effectiveness remains uncertain.

In her speech, Thunberg said there was a lack of political will for true climate solutions.

"The people in power are spending their time looking for false solutions and finding and creating loopholes which maintains business as usual and keeps them in the position of power," she said.

She said the role of activists at international conferences was to call out world leaders and to tell the truth.

"The truth now is that these processes are failing," she said. "They are failing us here in this room, they are failing our children, they are failing all of humanity and the future generations to come."

Thunberg's remarks came as concerns grew that negotiators would conclude the talks without adopting an agenda, as Climate Home News reported. The conference is set to wrap up on June 15, and ending it without an agenda could make progress more difficult at COP28.

The current disagreement concerns climate finance. Some developing countries want to add an agenda item "urgently scaling up financial support from developed country parties." Developed countries promised $1 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries in 2009 by 2020, but the target still has not been met.

However, developed and some developing nations argue that finance is already included in the agenda and that the separate agenda item was proposed too late in the process. The second bloc wants to add an agenda item on talks to cut emissions in line with the 1.5 goal, but the first group won't agree to the second item unless their finance item is also added.

The co-chair of the Bonn talks, Nabeel Munir of Pakistan, criticized negotiators for acting like "a class of primary school" children, Climate Home News reported.

"A third of the country [is] under water and I go back and tell my people that we were fighting for agenda for two weeks," he said, referring to devastating, climate change-fueled floods in Pakistan in summer 2022 that impacted 33 million people. "Come on, is it worth it?" he asked.

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