World Is “Speeding in the Wrong Direction” on Climate, Says Greta Thunberg

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who launched the global Fridays for Future youth climate movement, issued a stark warning on the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement that the world is not doing enough to keep global heating below 2 degrees Celsius — the target set in the landmark 2015 deal. “The gap between what we need to do and what is actually being done is widening by the minute. We are still speeding in the wrong direction,” Thunberg said in a video message posted on social media.

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AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged world leaders to declare a state of emergency over the climate crisis. His call came on Saturday during a virtual climate summit to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

SECRETARYGENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: Five years after Paris, we are still not going in the right direction. Paris promised to limit temperature rise to as close as to 1.5 degrees as possible. But the commitments made in Paris were far from enough to get there, and even those commitments are not being met. Carbon dioxide levels are at record highs. Today we are 1.2 degrees hotter than before the Industrial Revolution. If we don’t change course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century. …

Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency? That is why today I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached. Some 38 countries have already done so, recognizing the urgency and the stakes. I urge all others to follow.

AMY GOODMAN: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking Saturday at a virtual climate summit to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Prior to the summit, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg released a video saying much more needs to be done to combat the climate crisis.

GRETA THUNBERG: My name is Greta Thunberg, and I’m inviting you to be a part of the solution.

Five years ago, world leaders signed the Paris Agreement, and they promised to keep the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue 1.5 degrees to safeguard future living conditions. Since then, a lot has happened, but the action needed is still nowhere in sight. The gap between what we need to do and what is actually being done is widening by the minute. We are still speeding in the wrong direction.

The five years following the Paris Agreement have been the five hottest years ever recorded. And during that time, the world has also emitted more than 200 gigatons of CO2. Commitments are being made, distant hypothetical targets are being set, and big speeches are being given. Yet when it comes to the immediate action we need, we are still in a state of complete denial, as we waste our time creating new loopholes with empty words and creative accounting.

If you read through the current best available science, you realize that the climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved without system change. That’s no longer an opinion; that’s a fact. The climate crisis is only a part of a bigger sustainability crisis. For too long we have been distancing ourselves from nature, mistreating the planet, our only home, living as if there was no tomorrow. At the current emission rate, our remaining CO2 budget for 1.5 degrees will be completely gone within seven years, long before we will even have a chance to deliver on our 2030 or 2050 targets.

But I’m telling you, there is hope, because the people have not yet been made aware. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis, nor can we treat something like a crisis unless we understand the emergency. So let’s make this our main priority. Let’s unite and spread awareness. Once we become aware, then we can act. Then change will come. This is the solution. We are the hope. We, the people.

AMY GOODMAN: Climate activist Greta Thunberg, speaking in a video she released ahead of Saturday’s virtual climate summit to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Greta turns 18 on January 3rd.

When we come back, who gets the vaccine? As the first shipments of the federally approved COVID-19 vaccine arrive today across the United States, we’ll speak with longtime doctor and antiracism activist Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones about why communities of color with high COVID-19 death rates should be given priority access to the vaccine. Stay with us.