With Trump’s administration, talking constructively about climate change on US soil is not an easy task. Ask Greta Thunberg. However, advocates of a Green New Deal are not backing down…
The Greta Thunberg’s effect in the USA
On the 18th of September, Thunberg took the floor in front of the US Congress. With a clear reference to Martin Luther King, she stated: “I also have a dream: that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences”. In a country where climate change is “being discussed as something you believe in, or not believe in”, “It is time to face reality, the facts, the science.” As she emphasised the necessity to address climate change as the emergency that it is and recalled that there was no way to cut a deal with Mother Nature, some listened carefully while others rolled their eyes.
A few hours later, what sounded more like a good ad than a “short-film”, starring herself and the journalist Georges Monbiot, was released. Through it, they intended to promote their “Protect. Restore. Fund.” slogan and to show that more can be done thanks to “natural Climate solution”. In the video, we learn that only 2% of the funding granted to the decrease of CO2 emissions is invested in natural tools, such as replanting enough trees.
On Friday, global climate strike day, Thunberg stood in front of about 250.000 strikers in New-York’s Battery Park. “We will make them hear us”, “we are a wave of change”, “this is what people power looks like” she said, as her speeches seems to become more and more revolutionary.
A few days later, Thunberg spoke at the Youth Climate Action Summit, held on the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Thunberg was one of the lucky activists who was given a visa on time and could indeed talk in front of the Assembly. She hammered that “we are at the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” In the end, “Change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
About what could be expressed at the Summit, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, was clear to world leaders: there is no need to take the stage if it’s not to develop “concrete and transformative” plans. “We had enough talk”, “this is a climate action summit” (emphasis added). “Nature is angry”, so it’s about time to implement the Paris Agreement.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, said that “Germany sees its responsibility on the international stage and on the national stage”. This is a lot more than we would never hear from the United-States President, Donald Trump, who tried as hard as he could to avoid attending the summit, and finally stayed 15 minutes without saying a single word.
Later on that day, 16 children including Thunberg, aged between 8 and 17, coming from twelve different nations, filed a complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. According to them, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey breached the most widely ratified treaty in history, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, by letting children’s lives being impacted by the climate crisis. These nations are amongst the most polluting countries. One may wonder why the United-States, the historical biggest polluter, and China, the current biggest polluter, aren’t on the dock. The reason is simple: those two states never ratified the Third Optional Protocol of the treaty which allows children, or adults representing them, to seek justice for alleged violations.
US presidential campaign & the Green New Deal
The Green New Deal (GND) is a ten-year plan aiming at economic justice while addressing climate change. It has already been discussed in the American political sphere. After being rejected by the Senate in March 2019, some Governors adapted and implemented the Deal in their State.
While Republicans resolutely oppose the GND, Democrats embrace it. So far, Trump’s campaign only states that he had done an incredibly good job in increasing the oil and gas exploitation and exports. He also congratulates himself for undoing the Clean Power Plan. Nothing eco-friendly to be found here… As for the other Republican candidates for the 2020 presidential elections, they still have no idea what their election platform will be like, except for advocating not being Trump.
On the Democratic side, election manifestos are actually written, and each includes a point about climate change. All claim wanting a fair transition to a neutral emission State. Some of the candidates even have co-sponsored the GND in the Senate.
As the campaign moves forward, it will surely be interesting to see the place climate change gets in the national debates.
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