Sep 23, 2019

The new generational war

Greta Thunberg. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

A decade after millennials' hopes and dreams faded with the Great Recession, Generation Z is taking to the streets to proclaim climate change their era's defining issue.

Driving the news: In New York, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg confronted world leaders Monday: "I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to [us] for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."

  • Across the world, millions took to the streets on Friday as part of the school strikes. The Fridays for Future organization has rapidly grown into one of the biggest mass protest movements on Earth.
  • And in D.C. on Monday, climate protesters shut down intersections and jammed up traffic, with a target list called "climate criminals" that includes lobbyists, energy companies, government buildings, and industry and trade associations.

The big picture: Across the world, but particularly in the U.S., teens are coming of age in a political system that feels inadequate for the challenges they're told to expect, and the promises are growing fast, as the N.Y. Times notes:

  • "Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said his country would increase its share of renewable energy by 2022, without making any promises to reduce its dependence on coal."
  • "Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany promoted a new plan worth $60 billion over 10 years to speed a transition to clean power."
  • "Britain, Norway, Costa Rica and 12 other countries will promise to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050."

... So is the urgency and distress that it won't be enough:

  • “Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3°C of global heating by the end of the century," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres noted today.
  • “The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win,” he said in a statement.

As Axios' Ben Geman notes: The 2015 Paris deal calls for holding eventual warming below 2°C above preindustrial levels and includes a more ambitious target of 1.5°C.

  • But global emissions, which are still rising, are on a path to bring warming that blows past those targets.

Go deeper ... UN report: Climate change causes and impacts are increasing

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The big pledges from the UN climate summit

Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/Getty Images

Today's UN summit and the past 2 days are bringing fresh pledges by countries and corporations as the UN warns that the world faces warming levels that vastly exceeds the Paris agreement targets.

Why it matters: Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday, "Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century."

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

Greta Thunberg to world leaders: "You are failing us" on climate change

Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

16-year-old Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg implored world leaders in a passionate, angry and tearful speech Monday to act urgently on climate change at the opening of a United Nations summit.

"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."
Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

UN report: Climate change causes and impacts are increasing

Children on melting ice at the climate-change impacted illage of Napakiak on the Yukon Delta in Alaska in April. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

As world leaders gather in New York City for the United Nations Climate Action Summit Monday, a UN report warns climate change is accelerating — with the Earth on track for the warmest 5-year period on record.

"Climate change causes and impacts are increasing rather than slowing down. Sea level rise has accelerated and we are concerned that an abrupt decline in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, which will exacerbate future rise. As we have seen this year with tragic effect in the Bahamas and Mozambique, sea level rise and intense tropical storms led to humanitarian and economic catastrophes."
— World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas
Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019