COP26: Greta Thunberg: ‘It is never too late to take action against climate change’

It is ‘never too late’ to take action against climate change, Greta Thunberg has said, as COP26 begins in Glasgow.

The Swedish climate change activist said there was no “tipping point” where everything is lost and that missed targets could be reset.

Her comments come as the COP26 climate change conference starts today, with world leaders gathering in Scotland ahead of the World Leaders’ Summit on Monday and Tuesday.

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From the conference centre in Glasgow, Ms Thunberg also said it was “the fault of the politicians” if people in Aberdeen reliant on the oil and gas industry are worried about their future. Ms Thunberg, who is now 18, said that she would not look at taking an active role in frontline politics in Sweden yet, adding that she felt it was “more efficient to do it on the streets than to do it inside”.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a thumbs up arrives at Glasgow Central train station earlier this week ahead of the Cop26 summit.Climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a thumbs up arrives at Glasgow Central train station earlier this week ahead of the Cop26 summit.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a thumbs up arrives at Glasgow Central train station earlier this week ahead of the Cop26 summit.

The United Nations Emissions Gap Report released this week found that the world is on track to warm by 2.7C degrees.

Speaking to Andrew Marr on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Ms Thunberg said: “We must also remember that there's not a point where everything is lost. There's not like a tipping point where we pause now. Everything is lost. There's no point in doing anything.

"If we can't keep the global average temperature rises to below 1.5, then we do 1.6, and 1.7 and so on. We can always prevent things from getting worse. It's never too late to do as much as we can.”

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When asked what she would say to people in Scotland who would be worried her own economic futures would be hit by a move away from oil and gas, Ms Thunberg said: “Of course, we understand. And that's just the fact that there's that kind of fear is just a clear sign that we have not been handling the climate crisis in the way it should. Because the way we need to [do that] is that no one gets left behind, and that the people are being taken care of. So of course, that's, that's a sign of failure from from the politicians’ side.”

Ms Thunberg said that she believed that as long as no-one is hurt then sometimes it is necessary to "anger some people", when asked about environmental demonstrations.

Her comments come at a time when groups such as Insulate Britain have been blocking roads, prompting anger and frustration from some motorists. A programme of non-violent direct actions have been planned in Glasgow and in locations across the UK and worldwide during the two-week duration of the United Nations summit.

She said: "To make clear, as long as no-one gets hurt ... then I think sometimes you need to anger some people. Like, for instance, the school strike movement would never have become so big if there wasn't friction, if some people didn't get pissed off."

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She said that while people in some countries such as Britain may blame large nations such as China for pollution, people in Sweden looked to nations like the UK for their higher levels of emissions.

She said: “That's what everyone says. And that's what makes it so hard, because you can always blame someone else. In Sweden, for instance, we can say, ‘Why should we do this when you just like look at the UK’, I mean, it's always someone that's bigger than you that you can blame on. And that's why it's more important that we need to work together internationally and globally to make sure that everyone does this transition. Not the least, pushing China who are still building coal, coal power. Plants, which today is quite out of touch with reality if you ask me.”

She said that while she welcomed world leaders’ involvement in climate change activism, she worried that some may have a personal agenda. Mr Marr pointed to vocal support for climate change action by the current Pope.

She said: “Of course, many people just do it because it's it makes them popular. It makes them sound good. But of course, then, I'm sure that there are many people who actually do it because they care as well.”

"We need to remember that a politician's job is to fulfil the wishes of the voters. If there's no massive public pressure from the outside and they will get away with continuing continuing like now, and politicians, very often as long as they get away with doing something – and the same as CEOs and lobbyists – as long as they get away with doing something they will continue. Unfortunately, unless we really put massive pressure on them, they will continue.”

She added that US President Joe Biden had a “responsibility” to take action. Critics have warned that Mr Biden may not demonstrate major change when he speaks at COP26 this week.

She said: “When you are a leader of the most powerful country in the world, you have lots of responsibility. And when the US is actually in fact, expanding fossil fuel infrastructure, that's a clear sign that they are not really treating the climate crisis as an emergency.”

More than 20,000 delegates from across the world are expected to attend the Glasgow conference over the next two weeks. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that some of the disruption to local people will be “regrettable” as roads are closed and experts warn of a possible spike in Covid-19 cases. The summit was postponed last year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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