Greta Thunberg accused the Davos Forum on Thursday of “bringing together the people who are driving the destruction of the planet the most”, saying it was “absurd” to listen to them and calling for “massive public pressure” against fossil fuels.
• Also read: Greta Thunberg arrested after coal mine protest
Davos is “the place where the people who are fueling the destruction of the planet the most, the people who are in the middle of the climate crisis, the people who are investing in fossil fuels, etc.,” she said, accusing them of “greed ‘ and to put ‘short-term economic gain ahead of people and above the planet’.
“We seem to be listening to them and not to the people who are actually affected by the climate crisis, the people who are living on the front lines, and that shows us how absurd the situation is,” she lamented.
“The changes we need probably won’t come from within. I rather think they will come from the grassroots,” she said. “Without massive outside public pressure…they’re going to keep investing in fossil fuels, they’re going to keep sacrificing people for their own gain.”
The Swede, along with other young climate activists and the Director General of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, attended an event organized on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort.
“My presence here is a very important signal that I want to give to the world,” said the latter.
“Climate change needs more attention,” and that “is diminishing,” he lamented.
And to call for much more investment in clean energy, especially in emerging markets. “There’s a transition happening, but not at the rate we’d like to see,” he said. “What I think is missing is the international political will.”
Greta Thunberg was accompanied by three other climate activists: Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Luisa Neubauer from Germany.
Luisa Neubauer, Helena Gualinga, Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg.
They arrived in Davos with a petition launched this week urging multinationals to stop exploiting fossil fuels. The text had collected more than 910,000 signatures by early afternoon on Thursday.
“If you don’t act immediately, be warned that citizens around the world will consider legal action to hold you accountable. And we will continue to demonstrate in large numbers on the streets,” reads the petition, which copies the appearance of a legal notice.
“We are walking a very dangerous path. We are already seeing how local people are suffering,” said Helena Gualinga. “It is utter madness to allow this (…) through investments in fossil fuels,” she complained, denouncing “criminal behavior”.
Vanessa Nakate, who was close to tears at times during her speech, also regretted the lack of attention to Africa. “They focus on privileged countries and leave out communities that have suffered for decades,” sometimes even without basic access to electricity.
It is not the first time Greta Thunberg has come to Davos during the World Economic Forum meeting. The 2020 edition was notably marked by his skirmishes with US President Donald Trump.
It was time for “panic”, because “the house is on fire”, she hammered back then.
Earlier this week she had supported demonstrators who had spoken out against the expansion of a coal mine in West Germany.
That initiative earned him a few hours in police custody on Tuesday, according to a police source, but also the backing of former US Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore in Davos, who on Wednesday “accepted” his fight.
The German project illustrates the increased use of fossil fuels by many countries in the face of the energy crisis fueled by the war in Ukraine.
“It’s a fairy tale to say that new fossil fuels will solve every crisis,” countered Luisa Neubauer, who also took part in the demonstrations in Germany. They “do not solve the energy crisis in Europe, but produce crises around the world”.
Climate is a hot topic at this year’s meeting in Davos. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Wednesday for oil companies to be prosecuted like tobacco companies for years of withholding information about global warming.