Recently, the COP25 held in Madrid (instead of Chile) ended again with the usual outcome: no serious commitments on how to properly fight climate change that is happening anywhere on the planet with very tangible and destructive effects. However, in this editorial I would like to talk about Greta Thunberg, the 16 y.o Swedish girl that has rapidly gained worldwide fame as green activist when she started protesting every Friday with her famous “Fridays for Future” strike, which means every Friday she missed school lessons.
This action then expanded across students in other cities and countries and has now become a movement.
Greta was recently named “Person of the Year” by the TIME magazine while she was travelling on a sail boat to reach the USA to speak at the United Nations and then back to Lisbon where she caught a train to reach Madrid to speak at the COP25.
I am happy that a young girl, sensitive to environmental issues, attracted so much attention and shook local, national, international politicians reminding them of the high risks we are going to face if some radical decisions are not taken to prevent the current situation from escalating towards a point of no return. But…many questions have come to my mind. How can such a young girl know the complicated mechanisms of technology, energy efficiency, economy, innovation, international trades, policies, etc. to be able to suggest how things should change and improve?
What about her learning process at school when she is on the go for weeks? Are we going to have in a few years an adult Greta pretty ignorant because she stopped attending school at 15 y.o. while innovation in many fields doesn’t stop a minute? How can we be sure she is going to update what she says in these speeches without repeating as a broken disc every time the same old stuff? and many other questions could follow.
When Greta left Lisbon for Madrid, it was reported she travelled in a polluting diesel train. Didn’t she know it? Of course not, she hasn’t yet studied these topics. So, apparently, the message she conveyed at COP25 was in contradiction with her action.
What’s worse, on the THE TIMES Newspaper (21st Dec 2019 issue) I have read this worrying article: “Greta Thunberg merchandise sellers strike it rich” where first of all we discover there is a huge market (i.e. money) behind her. This makes me doubt about the genuinity of all these journeys: are they organised to spread a green message or to increase the number of customers buying her merchandise?
Even worse, many items of her merchandise are not at all environmental-friendly as reported in this article: “[…] The gnome, for example, is made from bonded acrylic resin, a material that is not easily recycled nor readily biodegradable. The manufacture of acrylic can also involve toxins that are potentially harmful to factory workers and the environment, according to campaigners.
Many of the T-shirts, such as the bestselling “Skolstrejk för Klimatet” on Etsy, are part polyester, a non-biodegradable fabric made from petrochemicals […]”
In conclusion, it is good to raise awareness about the risks of an irreversible climate change, it is good to reprimand politicians that didn’t do much or enough to save the environment, but we have to admit it is hard to be consistent with principles, especially when there is a lot of money involved…
I wish You and Your Families a Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!
EPN Consulting Founder & CEO