Current Event: Global Climate Action: The “Greta Effect”
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Article by Annabelle Wilmott,
If you have been reading the news or scrolling through Instagram recently, you probably noticed 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg pop up on your feed. Her uncensored voice has echoed across the world, inspiring others to demand climate action from their governments and the private sector alike.
Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit last month, Greta traveled fifteen days in a zero-emissions boat across the Atlantic to New York, as she no longer uses air travel due to the negative impact it has on the environment. According to estimates, about 4 million people around the world joined Greta on September 20th to participate in the Global Climate Strike, making it the largest climate protest in history. The activists marched to demand that governments and businesses commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
As part of the Global Climate Strike, employees from tech companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook walked out, demanding that their companies do more about climate change. Some businesses have already responded to those demands. For example, Amazon has committed to becoming net-zero by 2040 and has already placed an order for 100,000 electric delivery trucks. The “Greta effect" has also had an influence on consumers. According to a survey by Swiss Bank UBS, 20 percent of Western travelers have begun to fly less as “flight shaming” has increased with growing concern for the environment.
The urgency to tackle climate change intensified after the UN released a report last year predicting that climate change could lead to catastrophic effects as soon as 2040, with increasing food shortages, wildfires, and the dying off of our coral reefs. The report warned that avoiding the most devastating effects of climate change requires immediate and unprecedented global action. It makes clear that we cannot stay within the 1.5°C threshold without removing coal as an electricity source and switching to renewable energy.
In a passionate speech at the UN Climate Action Summit, Greta condemned world leaders for their inaction: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” she exclaimed. While many leaders did not give Greta and other climate activists the commitments they demanded, she left them with a message: “We’ll be watching you.”
Greta has invoked a new sense of urgency over the future of the planet. But to make the changes necessary to combat the most harmful effects of climate change, we must take immediate and unprecedented action to cut emissions.