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Who is Greta Thunberg? Show more Show less

The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist has emerged as the face of environmentalism. Her school strike ignited a global movement, she has addressed US Congress and the United Nations on the threat of climate change and now she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. But who is Greta Thunberg?
Greta Thunberg is a young, inexperienced, privileged teenager who travels around the world to address international bodies.
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Greta Thunberg doesn't tackle the real polluters

Thunberg spends her time lecturing the governments of Europe and North America without mentioning nations like China and India, who are both serious emissions offenders.

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Context

Greta Thunberg has called out governments in North America and Europe for their emissions and role in the climate crisis. However, she has not gone to India or China, two of the largest greenhouse gas emitters, and urged them to change their ways. If she was serious about tackling climate change, she would prioritise going after the worst offenders.

The Argument

Great Thunberg filed a lawsuit against five nations over their role in the climate crisis, but notably, the US, China and India, several of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, were not among them. If she was serious about tackling the worst offenders, they would feature prominently in her rhetoric and legal proceedings. Curiously, Brazil is among the five nations (the others are Argentina, Turkey, Germany and France), a country whose per capita emissions are half those of Thunberg's native Sweden. [1] The choice of countries in the lawsuit seem almost arbitrary. Argentina, Turkey and Brazil are minnows in comparison to the high per-capita emitters like the US, and their Northern European counterparts. They have also adopted environmentally conscious policies far earlier in their development cycles. Turkey, for example, has reduced its greenhouse emissions by more than any other developed nation. Of the five highest polluting nations on earth, only India's emissions are rising. Therefore, if reducing CO2 emissions was a priority for Greta, surely India would also play a prominent role in her legal efforts?[2] Alternatively, if she wants to go after the worst per capita offenders and persuade individuals to change their way of life, she would target nations like the US, Brunei, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar. The fact that she doesn't go after either the worst emitting governments nor the individuals with the highest emissions could be indicative of an underlying political agenda.

Counter arguments

She went to the US because of the UN Climate Summit. She wasn’t just going over there to lecture US companies and North American governments. When she addressed the crowd, delegates from all over the world were in attendance. Her message will be carried to every government on the planet. To say she is not addressing polluters like India and China is inaccurate. She is addressing the world. Also, China’s per capita emissions are around half of those of the US. Therefore, if her message is for both individual and government action to reduce emissions, it makes sense for her to target countries with higher per capita emissions. If she can persuade individuals in these countries to lower their emissions, it would have a significant impact. It should also be noted that Thunberg is planning a trip to China to spread her message there in 2020.

Premises

[P1] Greta has so far focussed her attention on berating the global leaders of the West over their climate policies. [P2] If her sole agenda was tackling climate change, she would include other prominent emissions offenders in her rhetoric and speeches. [P3] The fact that she doesn't could be indicative of an alternative political agenda.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] She has not focused her attention on any one governement or leader.

References

  1. https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/opinion/time-greta-thunberg-grown-conversations
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/06/how-indias-battle-with-climate-change-could-determine-all-of-our-fates

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This page was last edited on Friday, 25 Oct 2019 at 14:07 UTC