This week, the whole world is discussing the emotional performance of 16-year-old Greta Tunberg at the UN climate summit in New York, where she traveled for several weeks on an ocean yacht. In her speech, Greta accused world politicians of “stolen her dreams and childhood,” and stated that young people “will never forgive them for this.” The Revyuh tells how the “Greta effect” manifests itself in business and what economists think of it.
Hero: The world learned about Greta Thunberg back in 2018, when she went to the Swedish parliament with a “school strike” against global warming. The girl said that instead of school on Fridays she would come out with a protest (“Friday for the Future”) until she saw that the authorities had begun to take adequate measures to protect the environment. Thunberg herself became a vegan, abandoned all things of animal origin, forced her parents to buy an electric car, install solar panels in the house and move within available limits exclusively on bicycles and refuse to fly on airplanes.
- In March 2019, a group of Swedish and Norwegian politicians nominated Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize, and Time magazine put it on the cover a few months later.
- In the September Greta strike, 4 million people all over the world participated.
- Heads of state, large corporations and economists are listening to her and arguing about her thesis.
Details: The very idea of responsible consumption was born back in the late 1980s, but in recent years large corporations began to share it: Amazon said it orders 100,000 electric delivery vehicles to reduce carbon emissions by 2040. Google announced the largest renewable energy purchase for the corporation in history, and a group of 13 oil and gas companies led by BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil announced the launch of a “large-scale investment” in technologies that will allow them to hold greenhouse gases.
The boat Grete for the road to New York was lent by the Monaco yacht club, and usually the BMW concern sponsors cruises.
- In a single Sweden, the anti-aircraft movement started long before Greta abandoned them, but now it is at the peak of popularity. According to SJ, Sweden’s largest train operator, over the past 18 months, the proportion of Swedes who say they prefer traveling by rail has almost doubled and now stands at 37%. In 2018, SJ sold 1.5 million more tickets than in the previous one.
- According to Swedavia, the number of passengers traveling by plane in the country from January to April fell by 8% (flights over short distances cause more harm to the environment), less than 2.8% began to travel on international flights. A special term “flight shame” or flygskam appeared in the country. This year, almost 14.5 thousand people promised to abandon the bad habit. And this kind of eco-activism is not at all purely Swedish history (the question from different angles analyzes Vox and even gives practical advice to those who care).
- In addition, there are more and more ways to compensate for the shame, if you still have to fly on airplanes. Some airlines offer to pay for the environmental damage that will be caused by your flight, right when buying tickets. In addition, there are dozens of online projects that you can pay to minimize damage: using a special calculator, calculate the amount of emissions during your flight and transfer the required amount to one of the organizations that actively cares about the environment. Payment may vary from 10 cents per ton of carbon dioxide to $ 70. For example, on the website of the German non-profit organization Atmosfair, compensation for a flight from London to New York will cost from $ 40 to $ 93, depending on the airline. During this flight, approximately half a ton of carbon dioxide is released per passenger.
What is wrong here: Some economists argue that environmental activists could find a more worthy application of their efforts – according to various estimates, the share of aviation as a source of harmful emissions ranges from 2 to 5% (counterarguments are listed here ).
- In early August , Bloomberg published a column called “Greta, flying is normal”, in which economist Tyler Cowen doubts that Greta’s two-week voyage across the Atlantic Ocean somehow helped to lower the temperature on Earth, because the main source of harmful emissions is coal burning, cars, cooking, construction and cement production.
Global problem: Most break spears around the methods and means of expressing Greta’s protest, but few seriously argue that the very concept of rational consumption, which is far from being shared by one, contradicts the foundations of capitalism. After all, he proceeds from the fact that production (and with it consumption) must grow all the time.
- Humanity has not yet found suitable solutions to the problem, and scientists involved in it mainly suggest ways that come down to state regulation and stimulating companies to take a responsible approach. This question was discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos back in 2016, and Greta herself spoke at it last year.
Reaction: Tunberg’s recent actions were commented on by world leaders: French President Emmanuel Macron criticized her complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (five countries, including France and Germany, are accused of not doing enough to combat climate change).
- Russian President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the problems that Tunberg raises are “justified,” but “the main thing is that everything is normal with the girl, so that she does not experience emotional overload” (this week, after three years of waiting, Russia finally ratified the Paris climate agreement).
- Donald Trump, in which the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement, reacted to Tunberg speaking in his usual Twitter format, noting that “she looks like a very happy girl who is looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.” Personally, Trump was not present at the activist’s speech at the UN, but at a meeting he passed by her.
She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see! https://t.co/1tQG6QcVKO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019
Find out more: A detailed interactive map on which of the countries is most responsible for harmful emissions can be studied here.