Greta Thunberg: Scotland ‘not a world leader on climate change’on August 31, 2021 at 7:18 am

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Swedish activist Greta Thunberg says she does not think Glasgow’s COP26 summit will lead to “much results”.

Campaigner Greta Thunberg says she doesn’t regard Scotland as a world leader on climate change.

The Swedish activist told BBC Scotland she recognised that some countries “do a bit more than others” but that none were coming close to what was needed.

On the Scottish Greens’ deal to enter government, she said some politicians were “less worse” than others.

But she said tackling climate change was not as easy as voting for a green party.

The 18-year-old said: “Of course there might be some politicians that are slightly less worse than others. That was very mean but you get the point.

“It’s a hopeful sign that people want something that’s more “green” – whatever green means – but in order to solve this we need to tackle this at a more systemic approach.”

The Scottish government has previously described its climate change legislation as “world leading.”

It includes a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2045.

The legislation was praised as “inspiring” by the UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa.

Ministers say they recognise that every country needs to do more while the Scottish Greens say they agree that systemic change is necessary.

In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Scotland exactly two months ahead of the UN climate change conference being held in Glasgow, Ms Thunberg spoke about COP26 and plans for a new oil field off Shetland.

She said she was “not 100% sure” that she would attend the COP26 talks in November and that her decision would be based on whether the event was “safe and democratic”.

For her, that means ensuring participants from poorer countries are fully vaccinated and able to travel.

Greta Thunberg

image sourceGetty Images

Organisers are offering vaccines to all delegates as part of the accreditation process.

Ms Thunberg still believes the conference will not lead to anything “if we don’t treat this crisis like a crisis.”

She explained: “It should be all about climate justice and we can’t achieve climate justice if everyone is not contributing on the same terms.

“I’ve spoken to many people who say that they are trying to at least vaccinate all the delegates and making it more accessible. And if that is the case it’s left to see, I guess.”

After returning to school from a year off, the teenager said she would not be skipping lessons to attend because the conference falls during Sweden’s school holidays.

If she does decide to come, her plan is to travel from Stockholm by train.

Earlier this month, the former UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres said she thought the conference should be “hybrid” with some talks happening in Glasgow while others are moved online.

But Ms Thunberg says that should be avoided if a face-to-face meeting is safe.

She said: “I’m not an expert but we get much more results when we meet in person. It’s hard to argue against that. But, of course, if it’s not considered safe then we have to go for the safest option.

“To be honest, I don’t think that either one will lead to much results. A physical meeting will probably bring more results but still nowhere close to what’s needed.”

Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie

image sourcePA Media

The activist she was aware of the controversy about the Cambo oil field west of Shetland.

The UK government is still to make a decision about whether to give the go-ahead to the new development with pressure growing from climate change campaigners for it to be refused.

Sir Ian Wood, former chairman of the oil services firm Wood Group, said last week that Cambo needed to be given the green light so an energy transition could be carried out in an orderly way.

But Ms Thunberg, who used her speech at the UN climate summit in New York in 2019 to angrily tell world leaders and governments they were not doing enough to tackle climate change, said: “I think that maybe summarises the whole situation that we are in, the fact that these kinds of countries that are actually hosting COP are planning to actually expand fossil fuel infrastructure, to actually open up new oil fields and so on.

“But also, it’s a bit strange that we are talking about single individual oil fields when the UK is already producing so much oil as it is. It’s not just that we need to stop future expansions, we also need to scale down the existing ones if we are to have a chance of avoiding the worst consequences.”

The teenager has also previously criticised the UK for holding a climate conference when the opening of a new coal mine is being considered.

Asked whether a quicker energy transition can be achieved without costing tens of thousands of jobs in a place like Aberdeen, she said: “I sure hope so.

“I think we need to envision that. We can’t just say that it’s not possible, let’s just give up. We have to at least try. I don’t see that as a reason for not trying.”

Ms Thunberg added that she did not think she had been to Scotland before and looked forward to seeing the landscapes and meeting people.

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