'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges Billions to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged a quarter of $1 trillion budget over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.
"Every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards action to mitigate climate change," Juncker said. The plan will spend billions over seven years, according to Reuters.
Juncker's comments came at the Civil Society for rEUnaissance event in Brussels, where Thunberg doubled down on her consistent message that politicians must take serious strides to stop the climate crisis and protect the Earth for future generations—and that the EU must double its target of cutting greenhouse gases by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
"This target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today. If the EU is to make its fair contribution to stay within the carbon budget for the 2C limit then it needs a minimum of 80 percent reduction by 2030, and that includes aviation and shipping," Thunberg told political and business leaders. "There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge."
Juncker was among those who praised the tireless advocacy of Thunberg and others of her generation, hundreds of thousands of whom have captured the attention of the world—and their governments—by staging weekly climate strikes since December.
"I am glad to see that young people are taking to the streets in Europe to raise visibility of the issue of climate change," the Commission president said.
“I am glad to see that young people are taking to the streets in Europe to raise visibility of the issue of climate… https://t.co/XEo2K5tkIM— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@European Commission 🇪🇺)1550756856.0
Supporters of the climate strike movement—which Thunberg began last year with a one-person strike at the Swedish Parliament, and which has grown into a global movement with students all over the world planning events—also gave Thunberg credit for leading the pressure campaign.
Greta Thunberg tells EU: your climate targets need doubling>@GretaThunberg is kicking ass for her generation. It’… https://t.co/qOT5NIc7VC— Clive Lewis MP (@Clive Lewis MP)1550776797.0
As Juncker was announcing the proposal, more than 12,000 students were marching through Brussels and other Belgian cities once again, demanding that political leaders take seriously the warning of climate scientists and experts, who say if carbon emissions aren't cut drastically, humans will not be able to keep the warming of the globe under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2030. If urgent action is not taken, they warn, the result will include disastrous sea level rise, more extreme weather events, increasing humanitarian crises, species loss, threatened water supplies and untold economic costs.
Thank you everyone who came to the march today in Brussels ❤️❤️❤️ 12 000 in Belgium today! #schoolstrike4climate… https://t.co/Yavd5eWnnd— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1550770437.0
One solution: climate revolution! Happening right now in Brussels, thousands of young people marching in the stree… https://t.co/g05oQcxOsL— Moana Genevey (@Moana Genevey)1550755657.0
Teenage activist @GretaThunberg met @JunckerEU in Brussels as she addressed a conference on climate change… https://t.co/OBJFWWGWBE— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake by Bloomberg)1550754965.0
"Unite behind the science, that is our demand," Thunberg told a plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Thursday.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the EU chief pledged $1 trillion to curb climate threat. The language in this article has been updated to state that the EU chief has pledged a quarter of a trillion.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
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