“I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”
A 16-year-old girl turned up at the World Economic Forum on Thursday and called out the assembled Davos elite to their faces for what she said was their hypocrisy.
Greta Thunberg reportedly took a 32-hour train from her home in Sweden to the Swiss retreat and camped out in zero degrees-Fahrenheit temperatures to deliver an impromptu roast of the celebrities and economic titans. In a speech at lunch, she accused the high-profile guests of causing the warming of the planet that they had spent the prior several days grandstanding about fixing.
“Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we will have created, but that is not true, because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame,” Thunberg said quietly in a microphone. “Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”
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After a long moment of apparently stunned silence, U2 frontman and benevolent capitalist Bono led the room in scattered applause. Also on hand were music American hip-hop star Will.i.am, British primatologist Jane Goodall, and a litany of bankers and investors, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 24, 2019
“It was pretty fun,” Thunberg told CNN Business, noting that the decision-makers “didn’t know how to react.”
“I would say, you have to practice as you preach otherwise people won’t take you seriously,” added the pigtailed youngster.
Thunberg ― a hardcore climate activist with Aspergers’ syndrome, who refuses to travel by plane and eats a vegan diet ― delivered another impassioned speech to world leaders at last month’s United Nations climate talks in Poland. She has staged weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish Parliament and inspired international protests by other tens of thousands of other schoolchildren.
The teen followed-up on her Davos protest by coauthoring a Washington Post op-ed published last week under the title “Davos, this is outrageous.”
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Many progressives share Thunberg’s youthful obsession climate change, sometimes to an outsized degree given the facts. Star Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a leading advocate of a Green New Deal, last week claimed that “the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” While scientists have indeed warned of costly consequences as soon as 2030 if current trends are not reversed, the research does not support her apocalyptic claim.
In part because of such rhetoric, conservatives are wont to pump the breaks on heavy handed government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Donald Trump notably withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord in June 2017, saying it imposed an undue burden on the American economy. The United States contributes only about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.