Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has urged world leaders to act together, based on scientists’ advice, in addressing major crises from the Covid-19 pandemic to global warming.
The climate crisis “may not be as immediate as the corona crisis but we need to tackle this now otherwise it will be irreversible,” she said from Stockholm during an Earth Day event.
The 17-year-old Swede pressed governments worldwide to “put your differences aside… go out into the unknown and take decisions that may not make much sense at the moment but in the long run may be necessary.”
“It is even more important that we listen to science, to the experts. That goes for all crises, whether … the corona crisis or the climate crisis,” she said.
She spoke during an online conversation with Johan Rockstrom, co-director of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in a live event organised by the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm.
“We will rise from this, but we will not bounce back to the old world,” the Swedish professor said, speaking from Germany.
Greta said the climate crisis is “not slowing down even in times like these” and that a recent drop in pollution linked with widespread lockdown measures to address the pandemic should not leave us “optimistic”.
Many of the world’s large cities have seen great reductions in smog, with concentrations of potentially deadly particulate matter down by as much as 60% over last year.
The improvement in air quality is particularly noticeable in India, which has the world’s most pollution-related deaths with more than two million people every year, according to a December 2019 report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution advocacy group.
Greta has encouraged students to skip school to join protests demanding faster action on climate change, a movement that has spread from Sweden to other European nations and around the world.