Greta's tirade at the UN Climate Summit

At the UN Climate Change Summit in New York, Greta Thunberg accused world leaders of failing the younger generation. "All you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth," the 16-year-old said. Commentators discuss Greta's symbolic character on the world stage.

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Le Temps (CH) /

Suddenly the idea is right in front of us

Greta fulfils our need for embodied ideas, writes author Sylviane Dupuis in Le Temps:

“With her unfailing sincerity, Greta Thunberg has become the kind of icon that every cause (be it religious or political) needs to take shape. Over the course of time there have always been such figures, from Jesus to Joan of Arc. ... That's how deep our need for images is: an idea is nothing for us humans until it takes human shape. Greta Thunberg is the face of an idea that we have long been chasing after like a tiresome fly, and which is suddenly standing right in front of us: our kingdom is of this world only, and (even if some dream it will happen) we have no planet B. If the world is at death's door now, it will be reborn given sufficient time; we, however...”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

No time for established politicians

Confidence in established politicians is dwindling, Latvijas avīze observes:

“Around the world, many people today pay more attention to activists and the young generation. ... And the brightest star in the sky is called Greta Thunberg. ... The upshot is that many people are willing to live a green lifestyle, drink water from the tap, separate their waste, get by without a car and boycott plastic bags. At the same time they curse the politicians who do nothing to limit greenhouse gases and who couldn't care less that climate change is threatening the planet.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Tabloidisation is disarming Greta

The press's coverage of Greta Thunberg is disgraceful, columnist Erik Helmerson writes in Dagens Nyheter:

“What Thunberg has done is unprecedented. ... But what have we written about? Greta's expression, Greta's tears, Greta's angry tirade. Sometimes it seems as if the benefits she is bringing to the air and the sea are comparable only to the harm she has done to the journalistic climate. The main problem with Greta's tabloidisation isn't that it makes us all a little dumber, but that it disarms her. ... She's cast as a TV character instead of as an activist who is seriously challenging us to take action. As a kind of scarecrow who looks on powerlessly as the crows eat all the cherries - and poop on the trees.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Protests must demand the impossible

It's time for radical protest, Tygodnik Powszechny stresses:

“For climate protests to make sense they must hark back to the slogan from 1968: 'Demand the impossible!' - also from yourself. We can no longer wait for the politicians, whose actions are restricted by voters and lobbyists, to decide that coal-fired power plants must be shut down in 25 years' time. If we believe what science tells us we have to start living as if these plants no longer existed. ... People say the climate protests are 'young', but they embody the essence of politics today.”

Les Echos (FR) /

"Degrowth" doesn't work

Greta isn't right on all points, Les Echos puts in:

“You can't really say that nothing is happening, or that humanity is completely inactive faced with this historic challenge. The revolution in the car industry, for example, is costing tens of billions and leading to massive job losses. And many countries are experiencing an impressive boom in renewable energies. Too little too late, yes, but not nothing. What's more, 'degrowth' is also not the solution that will save the planet. Certainly, it's important to use fewer fossil fuels for heating, transportation and production. But must we really reduce spending on healthcare, pensions and solidarity with those most in need?”

Demokracija (SI) /

The sacred cow of global ecosocialism

Greta Thunberg is not the moral authority she is depicted as, says Demokracija:

“Greta is a symptom of the follies of ecosocialism and all its sponsors who are using her as cannon fodder. ... It's no secret that the eco-socialism that hides behind the term 'climate justice' is in fact a profitable market niche. This market niche is not based on free economic principles but on socialist foundations: a combination of brainwashing and myths that have little to do with science and raising taxes for a clean environment.”

Azonnali (HU) /

Young activist needs to change her strategy

Thunberg should shift her focus from the politicians to the people, Azonnali urges:

“She's denouncing the corruption of the political elites in vain when she addresses them directly (and expects them to provide solutions). Instead she should directly address the people, whose interests the politicians no longer represent. If everything Greta Thunberg accuses them of is true (and it is), she should have turned her back on them long ago and mobilised the citizens to find different solution. Of course, if she did that she'd lose her current role. Angry accusations would no longer be enough, and she'd have to table some concrete proposals instead.”

La Stampa (IT) /

The figures of truth

After hearing Greta, columnist Gianni Riotta recommends in La Stampa reading Václav Smil's book Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities:

“Did you know that since 2003 China has consumed more cement every three years than the United States throughout the entire 20th century? Or that if you were to put all the people living today together with their livestock in one weighing dish and the animals still living freely in the wild on the other, we with our cows, sheep and pigs would weigh more than all the elephants, whales, tigers, birds in the sky and fish in the sea that are left in the world? These are the figures of truth from the new study by scientist Václav Smil. ... Either our economies must become truly 'green' in this generation or the planet Earth, entrusted to Homo Sapiens by God or evolution, will be lost.”

Journal 21 (CH) /

The rebellion against the old has begun

The generation conflict that has emerged with Fridays for Future could intensify, Journal 21 believes:

“The elderly are up to their ears in debt. They're not only living at the expense of nature, the climate and the world's resources, but also of the coming generations. And the young are left with less and less. ... On top of that they have to pay more and more so that the old can go on receiving their cushy retirement benefits, medical treatments and care. And all that after enjoying a lifestyle that young people can only remember from their childhood.”

Mérce (HU) /

The economic system must change

Even if the countries were to fulfil their commitments that alone probably wouldn't be enough, Mérce fears:

“The countries that are the biggest polluters and whose governments didn't attend the summit probably won't change their policies, since the recommendations of the global organisation are not binding. ... In addition the trigger of the climate disaster is global capitalism with its constant pressure for growth. ... There doesn't appear to be any solution other than a comprehensive reform of the global economic system.” (RU) /

Something very strange is going on

Journalist Vladimir Guriev finds it surprising that Greta Thunberg has been allowed to speak before the UN, with all the state leaders listening to her. In a Facebook post reposted by he writes:

“Excuse me, but why the hell is the whole world listening to a little girl who doesn't even have a high school diploma? Where has this conviction that her opinion on this issue has any value at all suddenly emerged from? How does her opinion differ from that of any taxi driver? I believe in coincidences, but not in this coincidence. Not the kind of coincidence in which the whole world has suddenly agreed not to take notice of the fact that something very strange is going on here.”