Issued on: 01/19/2023 – 02:42
Davos (Switzerland) (AFP) – Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg returns to Davos on Thursday to advance her fight against fossil fuels at the annual confab of the global business and political elite.
Two days after police briefly arrested her at a protest against a coal mine in Germany, Thunberg and other young activists on the fringes of the world economy are set to take part in a debate with International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol at the forum.
The 20-year-old Swede caused a stir as a teenager in January 2020 when she attended the forum, warning that “our house is still on fire” and lamenting that her demands had been “completely ignored”.
Then-US President Donald Trump used his speech at the same forum to blast “the eternal prophets of doom” while Thunberg watched from the audience.
This week, she and fellow activists Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Luisa Neubauer from Germany started an online petition demanding that energy companies stop all new oil, gas or coal exploration projects – or face possible legal action must.
More than 870,000 people had signed the petition by late Wednesday.
“Enough is enough,” Gualinga told AFP earlier this week. “We have to leave the oil underground.”
The four activists will be among the panelists to discuss with Birol on Thursday calls to end new fossil fuel investments and what should be done to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, organizers said.
The IEA, which advises governments, said in a report in October that the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is bringing changes that could accelerate the transition to a “more sustainable and secure energy system”.
Big Oil’s “Big Lie”.
Thunberg was among a group of people who were dragged away by police on Tuesday during a protest near the German village of Lützerath, which is being demolished to make way for a coal mine expansion. They were not officially arrested.
Their actions were praised in Davos by former US Vice President Al Gore, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.
“I agree with their efforts to stop this coal mine,” Gore said at a panel on global warming, adding that young people around the world despair of leaders’ efforts to address the climate crisis.
“We are not winning” the battle against global warming, he said.
Climate change is a key issue at the World Economic Forum, where companies and governments have come under pressure to do more to ensure the world meets the increasingly elusive goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
In a speech on Wednesday, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres drew a parallel between the actions of oil companies and those of tobacco companies, which were eventually hit by costly lawsuits over the harmful effects of cigarettes.
Guterres pointed to a study published last week in Science magazine that said ExxonMobil had rejected the findings of its own scientists, who had accurately predicted global warming due to fossil fuels as early as the late 1970s.
“Some in Big Oil have been peddling the big lie,” he said. “And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held accountable.”
© 2023 AFP