Greta “Joan of Arc” Thunberg Shames Leaders at COP24

In 1429 Joan of Arc (17) led French troops to victory over English forces at the Siege of Orleans after she had a vision. Today, eco warrior Greta Thunberg (15) is leading the battle against the ravages of climate change. Greta has vision.  She’s taken the leadership mantle from Joan of Arc whether she knows it or not. Some things in life just happen!

For nearly three decades, the global movement to fix climate change has been stuck in low or no-gear ever since the nations of the world agreed to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 1992 at the Kyoto Protocol. It’s been a dry run ever since. Nothing of consequence happens.

Instead, GHGs continue to accumulate, and at an accelerating rate no less, and ecosystems are starting to collapse; e.g., the Arctic is losing its entire infrastructure because of global warming and permafrost regions of the world are collapsing. The consequences are too unnerving to mention! More likely, divine intervention is needed, badly needed.

Fortunately, Joan of Arc’s contemporary counterpart Greta Thunberg has swept onto the scene from Sweden. Her advent is eerily similar to that of Joan of Arc dressed in armor and white garments leading the French against English forces. Hers was a watershed victory for France during the exhausting and horrifically bloody 100 Years War.

Over subsequent weeks Joan led the French forces into a number of stunning victories over the English, and Reims, the traditional city of coronation, was captured in July. Later that month, Charles VII was crowned king of France with Joan of Arc kneeling at his feet.

All of which prompts consideration for whether Greta’s presence and fierce determination can bring tangible results to the climate change fight similar to Saint Joan of Arc’s miraculous victories for France. By all appearances, Greta is the right choice to carry Joan of Arc’s banner into battle circa 2019 and onwards.

Greta is equally committed to justice as Joan of Arc, but it is climate justice rather than recapturing sovereign territory. Several weeks ago Greta went on strike from school to protest, sitting on cobblestones outside parliament in central Stockholm, handing out leaflets to adults, informing them of their failure to fight the climate crisis.

At about that time, after 2 weeks of her attracting global attention from the media, embarrassed Swedish parliamentarians had her moved from parliament to the other side of a public bridge that links parliament island to mainland Stockholm “for public safety reasons.”  But, had it actually been for public safety, they would have moved her on the first day.  Rather, their modus operandi was to remove her resonating protest from official visitors, MPs and Swedish lobbyists.

Previously, Sweden enacted some of the most ambitious climate laws in the world in order to become carbon neutral by 2045, thus beating the climate targets of 2015 Paris. Still, according to Greta:

This is too little too late; it needs to come much faster. Sweden is not a green paradise, it has one of the biggest carbon footprints.1

Sweden’s carbon neutrality is still partially based upon the dubious principle of “carbon offsets.” As well, they use a 1990 baseline, which is already suspect since the Kyoto Protocols and Paris Accord intend to control temperature rise to 1.5-2o C of the 1850 baseline! Therefore, Sweden’s baseline is missing 140 yrs. Greta says Sweden’s carbon neutrality is, at best, inadequate and pandering to the populace.

Meantime, the climate crisis lingers, not going away, as temperatures continue scorching upwards, and year-over-year CO2 emissions set new records. Still, fossil fuels are 80%-85% of the global energy mix, same as 40-50 years ago. This is 100% proof of an historic non-accomplishment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as all of the various COP meetings and all principals so involved.

Not only, but as Greta insinuates, one solution to climate change could be a change in socio-politico-economic systems. Accordingly, Greta claims:

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury.

By all appearances, she is an advocate of a more socialized economic mix that favors masses over elite globalists. In the true spirit of an extraordinarily strong climate advocate, she avoids air travel. Greta is truly committed to her passion. How else sit in lonely protests at parliament?

The brutal fact is that ever since the nations of the world agreed to curb greenhouse gases at Kyoto in 1992, CO2 emissions (with one small hiatus) have been accelerating, not decelerating. Like clockwork, COP meetings are followed by increases in CO2 emissions. That’s a bad trend.

Furthermore, CO2 emissions today are 10-15 times more than the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction or the 5th Extinction event 65 million years ago when dinosaurs went down for the count. If dinosaurs couldn’t survive back then, what of Homo sapiens today in the face of greenhouse gases emitting 10-15 times faster?

As a result, today’s extinction rate is at least 1,000 times more powerful than normal background rates of 1-5 species per year. Nowadays, more than 150 species go extinct per day, not 1-5 species per year like yesteryear!

Accordingly the consequences of climate change/global warming, and including vast amounts of chemical toxicity, trounce the rate of the five past extinction events. Today, the climate crisis vis-a-vis past extinction events is literally off the charts!

Greta knows this, and it is why she openly shames adults for messing up the planet. At Katowice, Poland via “ScientistsWarning.org presents Greta Thunberg’s Intervention at COP-24” hosted by Stuart Scott she told the UN secretary general António Guterres:

For 25 years countless people have stood in front of the UN climate conferences, asking our nations’ leaders to stop the emissions. But, clearly, this has not worked since the emissions just continue to rise.

So I will not ask them anything.

Instead, I will ask the media to start treating the crisis as a crisis.

Instead, I will ask the people around the world to realize that our political leaders have failed us.

Because we are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness… So we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again.

We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not.

As Greta understands only too well, our biosphere’s ecosystems are under severe stress, but it starts where nobody lives. So people do not see it or sense it until it is too late. After all, who lives in the Arctic, Andes’ glaciers, Patagonia, Antarctica, Tibetan glaciers, Siberian Arctic permafrost, Alaskan permafrost, or in acidic ocean waters… nobody!

Greta Thunberg knows of the potency of risks at hand because she has studied the subject matter, and now that she fully understands the impending doomsday consequences, she has put world leaders and the entire world on notice that “change is coming whether they like it or not.”

Will the world community react in time or will it dilly dally and waste another 30 years holding spectacular COP meetings but failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions?

Postscript: Greta’s full 3-minute speech, or ‘intervention,’ at the UN plenary of the negotiations at COP24 is available here.  She was brought to COP24 by ScientistsWarning.org, whose website allows you to join the worldwide effort to avert an ecological catastrophe in the making, and by ClimateMatters.TV with host Stuart Scott, where one can subscribe for free to a flow of astute video material on the ins and outs of the planet’s current existential predicament.

  1. David Crouch, “The Swedish 15-year-old Who’s Cutting Classes to Fight the Climate Crisis,” Guardian, September 1, 2018. []
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com. Read other articles by Robert.