Apr 16, 2019

Greta Thunberg tells EU lawmakers to focus more on climate instead of Brexit

Greta Thunberg speaks at a Fridays for Future protest on March 29 in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the European Parliament on Tuesday, criticizing the EU for holding multiple emergency summits on Brexit but "no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and environment."

Context: Her efforts highlight the growing sense of urgency among young people on an issue that is currently at its inflection point, as politicians in some countries maintain a stark partisan divide on climate change and major oil and gas companies increase their clean energy investments.

  • Tuesday's speech came just over one month after Thunberg led the largest and most widespread demonstration on climate change since the run-up to the Paris climate summit in 2014 and 2015.

The takeaways:

  • Thunberg said that, around 2030, "an irreversible chain reaction that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it" will begin, adding that changes like a 50% reduction of CO2 emissions would be needed to avoid that outcome.
  • The young activist fought back tears as she spoke about a wide range of topics: an increasing extinction rate, fertile topsoil erosion, deforestation, air pollution, insect loss and ocean acidification.
  • "You cannot ignore the scientists, or the science, or the millions of ... children who are school striking for the right to a future," she said in closing.

Between the lines: A December poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change and George Mason University found that the portion of the American public "alarmed" about climate change is at an all-time high of 29% — double the size of a 2013 survey.

Go deeper: Watch Thunberg's full speech here.

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Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse even as curfews set in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed the New York Police Department late Tuesday following reports of police kettling in protesters on Manhattan Bridge.

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.