Climate icon Greta Thunberg finds that political change is ‘complicated’

I keep telling you to unite behind the science — make the best available science the heart of politics and democracy.

Young activist tells European lawmakers they need to treat climate change as an ‘existential crisis.’


Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, 16, takes part in a press conference during a plenary session at the European Parliament on April 16, 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France | Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images

STRASBOURG — Turns out that building a global climate change protest movement was the easy part.

Now 16-year-old climate icon Greta Thunberg is getting an up-close look at why politicians are having trouble turning her demands into policy.

“I have learned that anything can happen, but also learned how things work, how complicated everything is,” she told POLITICO on Tuesday about her political learning curve since starting her climate strikes last summer.

“It’s not just pressing a button and something happens, everyone has to agree — I have definitely started to understand more how everything works,” she said after watching the European Parliament’s Strasbourg plenary session from the visitors’ seats.

It’s a path traveled by other protestors who have tried to turn their demands into policy.

“Our house is falling apart, and we are rapidly running out of time, and yet basically nothing is happening” — Greta Thunberg

Her demands go way beyond the EU’s hard-won 2030 climate targets. Those goals reflect a careful balance between national interests, as well as concern about losing competitiveness to other major economies. But that doesn’t cut ice with a campaigner (and Nobel Peace Prize nominee) who sees climate change as the defining issue of our age.

“When I tell politicians to act now, the most common answer is that they can’t do anything drastic, because that would be too unpopular among voters. And they are right of course. Since most people are not even aware of why those changes are required. That is why I keep telling you to unite behind the science — make the best available science the heart of politics and democracy,” she told MEPs. MORE

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