Climate must be treated as a crisis

Climate must be treated as a crisis

When will governments and other global decision makers finally listen to the concerns of millions of people everywhere about the ravaging effects of climate change?

Maybe they already are. In September an estimated 7m people — mostly young activists — took to the streets around the world and yesterday protesters in a smoke-covered Sydney kicked off a fresh round of global protests against climate change yesterday, mostly by young activists and schoolchildren. The protests have taken on extra urgency in Australia where part of the south-east of the country has been devastated by hundreds of bush fires in recent weeks.

Demonstrations also took place around Ireland as part of the global day of action, inspired by 16-year-old climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg. The latest street protests come as 200 nations prepare to gather in Madrid next week for a 12-day UN climate conference.

However uncomfortable adults may feel about being dictated to by a teenage girl from Sweden, there is no doubt that she has been an impressive agent for change. Despite the US President Donald Trump remaining an outlier, politicians elsewhere are beginning to listen.

The EU Parliament has just declared a climate emergency, urging all member states to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That is a good start. As Thunberg herself put it, “we can’t solve a crisis without treating it as one.”

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