Climate protection: who gains from Greta hype?

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has started out on her voyage across the Atlantic from Plymouth, in southern England. In roughly two weeks't time the yacht will reach New York, where Thunberg will participate in the UN Climate Change Summit in September. Commentators increasingly criticise the hype surrounding the 16-year-old and explain who stands to benefit from it.

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Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Thunberg's sponsors are climate sinners

Greta's sea voyage has a catch, remarks the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap, listing those accompanying her on the trip:

“Greta and her father, a cameraman who is documenting the trip, the captain and owner of the ship, Pierre Casiraghi. Casiraghi is a professional sailor, founder of the Malizia group and majority owner of Monacair. This airline is well-known for bringing its wealthy customers who arrive at Nice airport to their chosen destination in a helicopter, in the winter to the Alps, in the summer to the Riviera. This short flight costs 690 euros per capita and produces just as many kilos of carbon dioxide. ... So Casiraghi has plenty of money to support climate protection!”

24 Chasa (BG) /

Everyone wants a piece of Greta

The more popular and influential Greta Thunberg becomes the more she'll be victimised by adults, 24 Chasa writes:

“Can a 16-year-old girl who counts among the ten most popular and influential people in the world protect herself from all those who want to use her for their own purposes? Hardly. Before she sailed off to the US in her yacht it came out that the trip had been financed by a Stuttgart billionaire and that the crew are professionals from Monaco who normally spend their time taking millionaires out for a cruise. Even her own family profits from her fame. Greta Thunberg's mother recently published a book on her daughter's life with Asperger syndrome in which she discloses everything about Greta's private life. The book has been an international bestseller for months.”

Aixmi (GR) /

A fairytale from the PR industry

Aixmi also sheds light on the story behind the Greta phenomenon:

“Behind the rhetoric of fear and disaster is Greta's 'creator', Ingmar Rentzhog, a powerful and well-known Swedish PR expert who owns the online start-up 'We Don't Have Time'. The story behind the 'Greta' story he created is less pretty but all the more interesting. ... Rentzhog's first encounter with Greta on the pavement outside the Swedish parliament was no chance meeting. Nor was the first article in Aftonbladet, Sweden's top-selling newspaper, which appeared just a few hours after the PR expert posted something on Facebook about the 16-year-old. ... The main shareholders in 'We Don't Have Time' are two very powerful Swedish billionaire families who have nothing to do with ecology or climate change. They deal with finances and are major investors.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Like the leader of a cult

Greta Thunberg and her supporters have taken the climate debate in the wrong direction altogether, The Spectator argues:

“Right now there are fewer things more embarrassing, and sometimes even nauseating, than the sight of politicians and officials and celebrities going all goggle-eyed for Greta's prophecies of calamity. It has all the ingredients of a cult. The wise godhead; the uncritical, wide-eyed acceptance of everything she says; the predictions of hellfire if we don't atone for our eco-sins. What a lot of hysteria. For the good of public life, and for the good of Greta herself, let's call an end to this infantile fearmongering and try to get back to reasoned debate.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Populism à la Thunberg

One thing Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump have in common is their distrust of established elites, the Tages-Anzeiger observes:

“The fact that the world listens to a 16-year-old when she says things that scientists and some politicians have been saying for years not only shows how good she is at channeling discontent. It's also an alarming symptom of today's world: once again we see how the reputation of the elites, serious politicians and moderate scientists has suffered. Those who come across as new, media-friendly and unconventional - and in that regard Thunberg and Trump are surprisingly similar -, can drum up more political support than those whose job it is to negotiate political compromises. The widespread support for Greta Thunberg is the flip side of populism à la Trump: Both are rooted in distrust of established elites.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Unfortunately Greta is powerless

Thunberg's campaign for climate protection will be in vain as long as politicians don't join her efforts, laments Corriere della Sera:

“Greta Thunberg is sailing with a boat equipped with solar panels to avoid the emissions of a transatlantic flight. The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, by contrast, has no qualms about explaining to the governments of the states gathered at the Pacific Islands Forum that his country has no intention of abandoning coal or coal-fired power production - the worst fuel in terms of CO2 emissions. ... Even though we must thank Greta for putting the climate problem in the spotlight, the reality is dictated by politicians like Morrison who only care about a short-term consensus.”

Le HuffPost (FR) /

Sailing must also become more sustainable

On her long voyage on a high-tech yacht Greta will be able to discover the environmental drawbacks of sailing, writes skipper Eric Bellion in a blog entry addressed to Thunberg on Le HuffPost:

“When you hear all that's said on board, I imagine you'll soon start to take a critical look at the world of sailing, which is unfortunately not as exemplary as it should be. In fact we still use far too much petrol in the production of hulls, masts, sails and ropes. Almost nothing is made in the same place, none of the energy is shared. And the boats we make continue to become obsolete too quickly. We vie with each other to become ever faster. Perhaps like me, you'll start to wonder why the sport continues to celebrate speed and competition when what our world so urgently needs is deceleration and cooperation.”