Juncker faces Sweden’s teenage activist Greta Thunberg during climate talks

European Union

Sixteen year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (L, bottom), European commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L, top) and EESC President, Luca Jahier (R) attend the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) event; 'Civil Society for rEUnaissance' in Brussels, February 21, 2019.

Juncker faces Sweden’s teenage activist Greta Thunberg during climate talks


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Sweden’s young climate activist Greta Thunberg. who was in Brussels to speak to EU politicians and to support the Brussels climate youth march on February 21, gave a speech at an event dubbed the ‘Civil Society for rEUnaissance’, which called for the EU to double its greenhouse gas reduction targets to 80% by 2030.

According to Thunberg, this 80% emissions reduction should include aviation and maritime transport. When speaking with European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who called her a ‘unionist’, Thunberg explained that the EU’s climate goals should be “twice as ambitious as the current 40%”.

Along with several other Youth for Climate movement supporters, Thunberg, who has been on “climate strike” since last August, skipping class to protest every Friday outside the Swedish parliament, has been a speaker of the 24th UN climate conference in Poland last December. Next, came Brussels.

The 16-year-old activist said the younger generation is here: “We leave all the problems to our generation, but it is not for our future for which we fight, it is for everyone’s future,” added Thunberg concluded in clear terms: ” We started to clean up your mess. And we will not stop until we finish”.

Under the Paris Agreement, the EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and has been implementing a series of measures since December 2015 in various areas, among which the reform carbon market, clean mobility, distribution of effort between the Member States, building, energy saving.

“Some people say it’s good or ambitious,” added Thunberg. “But this goal is still not enough to keep global warming below 1.5° C,” as according to the young Swedish, “this goal is not enough to protect the future of children growing up today”.

“I have to say that I am rather in a good mood when those questions are put to me, because I did everything possible to feed the social dimension,” added Juncker. “When I launched the idea of having a summit in Gothenburg, there was a huge debate in Sweden, For some Swedish unionists, the general feeling was that this was not a matter for the EU (to be involved) They believe that we should let the unions and the labour organisations do what they do, in the spirit of forging dialogue and that we should not impose, via Brussels, a formula that has already been employed,” added Juncker.
The EU institutions leader further  criticised US President Donald Trump for suggesting that climate change was “invented”. “Mr Trump and his friends believe that climate change is something that has just been invented and its an ideological concept, but … something dangerous is already underway,” he said.
Juncker promised on behalf of the EU that spending on actions to mitigate climate change will be increased. “In the next financial period from 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards action to mitigate climate change,” said the EU executive chief of the Commission’s proposal for the EU budget, which is typically 1% of the bloc’s economic output, €1tn during a 7-year period.
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