Greta Thunberg: In Davos we hear “the people who are fueling the destruction of the planet the most”

Greta Thunberg: In Davos we hear “the people who are fueling the destruction of the planet the most”

By Le Figaro with AFP

Posted 2 hours ago, Updated 2 hours ago

The environmental activist slammed participants at the World Economic Forum on Thursday during a discussion with other young activists and Fatih Barol, the director of the IEA.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday (19 January) accused the Davos Forum of “bringing together the people who are most fueling the destruction of the planet” and called it “absurd” to listen to them.

“We seem to be listening to them more than 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 said during an event organized on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Swiss ski resort.

Greta Thunberg was accompanied by three other climate activists: Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Luisa Neubauer from Germany. They arrived in Davos with a petition launched this week urging multinationals to stop exploiting fossil fuels. The text had collected more than 870,000 signatures as of Wednesday evening.

Those Who “Put Profits Before People and Planet”

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’.

“Even so, we seem to be relying on these people to fix issues that they’ve proven time and time again aren’t a priority.”

“These people will go as far as they can and for as long as they can while they make it. They will keep investing in fossil fuels, they will keep sacrificing people for their own gain,” she said.

Changes “will come from below”

“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 will continue to invest in fossil fuels, they will continue to sacrifice people for their own benefit.”

Second visit to Davos: “The house is on fire”

“The oil has to stay in the ground,” Helena Gualinga said in an interview with AFP earlier this week. “We come from different places in the world but we have the same proposal. It’s a call to ‘get fed up!’ saying fed up, because we’ve said it many times, we need to act urgently.”

“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.

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.

Custody and support of Al Gore

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, January 17, according to a police source, but support for Davos from former US Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore, who on Wednesday “accepted” his fight.

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. “Some fossil fuel producers in the 1970s were well aware that their flagship product was going to burn up the planet,” he said in a speech denouncing their “big lie.”

Symbolic presence of Fatih Barol, Director of the AIE

The Swede spoke during a conversation with other young climate activists and the Director General of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol. “My presence here is a very important signal that I want to give to the world,” said the latter.

Fatih Barol on December 21, 2022 during a press conference at the European Commission. JOHANNES THYS / AFP

“Climate change needs more attention. Unfortunately, attention to climate change is dwindling,” he lamented, while much more investment in clean energy is needed.