Greta & Svante Thunberg – Straight Talk

SVANTE THUNBERG: With the situation we
have today you have to, you know… Go out! You know… Leave the charted area.
Get off the maps. Do new stuff! STUART SCOTT: I want to thank you all for coming
to another ScientistsWarning program. Your hosts: Myself, Stuart Scott
and Victoria Hurth. We’re coming to you live from COP24 in Katowice,
Poland, the Conference of Parties. Now, today’s guests, with us: Greta and Svante Thunberg. The name Thunberg is not yet
a household name, but Greta’s accomplishment is known
famously around the world. She’s an international climate activist. And with her: her father, who is an
author and an actor. He happens to be her PR person, her chauffeur,
her protector… all of the above. A very, very dedicated man. And today’s program we’re calling
‘Straight Talk’. Because that’s Greta’s hallmark and
Svante’s hallmark. They both talk very straight
about the situation. And I think that’s why the world
is hearing Greta so clearly. Here’s how Greta started. With a one-woman sit-down strike
outside the Swedish parliament. For about two weeks she was there,
until they gave an excuse, that it was a safety issue, and asked her
to move across the bridge. Basically out of the way, so she
wouldn’t embarrass the politicians. Because she was drawing
so much attention. And she made her point not only in Sweden
but then internationally. Now, this is Svante with Greta’s
mother, Malena Ernman who gave up a very successful
operatic career in order to… well, for the sake of her
daughter’s budding career as a climate activist,
shall we say. I love this picture of Greta. Look at the
determination in this young lady. Now, the United Nations has taken
notice of Greta being here, and Secretary-General Guterres asked for Greta
to join him in a private meeting yesterday. And this is one of the photos. And this is one of my favorite
photos of Greta. Here she was after just speaking at a rally in Helsinki, Finland, which was said to be
the largest climate rally ever in Finland. Svante, can you explain to us how
this all came about? SVANTE: Yeah, sure. It goes back a few years, when
Greta fell ill. I think it’s four or
five years ago. She stopped eating and she stopped talking,
and she fell into a depression. And she stayed home from school
for almost a year. She lost a lot of weight, and was
on her way to hospital and… So we stayed at home, my wife and I, we stopped
working and we stayed at home to… We have two daughters and we made sure
that they were feeling well again. And once Greta was coming back,
it turned out she was very… concerned and upset about
the climate. She has been going on about
this before, obviously. But it sort of stuck to her and she
could not get this out of her head. The fact that everyone was
saying one thing and doing the exact opposite
all the time. Not least us parents. We were two very
concerned parents. Sort of interested and outspoken
on human rights… Care for refugees and the importance of
taking good care of our fellow citizens. But in Greta’s eyes, of course, we were
missing out one big point. In fact the most
important point, which was the climate – or the sustainability
crisis going on around us. So while we were saying all these
things about, you know, taking care about our fellow man, we were
flying around, eating meat and buying things and driving a big car.
Having two homes. And of course, that’s not really…
sustainable. And then we realized that we were of course
a huge part of the problem. In fact, we were the problem. And Greta could not sort of
get around that, and it made her very, very upset. So, listening to her, we sort of started taking in
the sustainability and the climate crisis, and we sort of embarked on a road,
which we are still upon and I believe a lot of you in this room are
still, or, upon the same road. She told us that we had to change
and we could not go on doing what we did,
you know. And she showed us all these
statistics, you know. When my wife went to Tokyo, for instance,
to do a series of concerts, and it was very important – shown on
Japanese TV and all this, you know. 4,000 people on each performance. And, you know, that was
very important to her. But then again, when she came home,
Greta said, you know, ‘You just spent like 20 people’s
carbon budget – living in West Africa for instance
with their carbon footprint – just by going back
and forth to Tokyo. Which of course is the same here. Here we are flying
back and forth to Poland from all over the world. Spending god knows how many
people’s carbon budgets. And so Greta said, ‘You can’t
go on doing that.’ You cannot stand up for human rights while
you are living this lifestyle. And so we gave up that lifestyle and
my wife stopped flying in 2016 and I stopped flying
six months later. And Greta, of course, stopped flying
way before that. And then we became vegetarians,
then we became vegan, and so on. So, yeah, that was the background of the story.
And now we’re sort of going on. Greta was getting more
and more frustrated about the way that, you know, the
politicians keep saying, ‘This is the most important issue of all’,
and yet the emissions are still rising. And nothing is changing. So then she decided to go
on school strike. VICTORIA HURTH: So, Svante, you give a
really great insight into what we all live with. And what I think – as adults we
learn this doublethink. We learn to do and act, and somehow the only way
we can cope with life is by doing that. Is that how you explain why this went
under the radar for you for so long? Or what other explanation can you
give for that? SVANTE: I believe humankind has been
doing this forever. We’ve been saying, ‘Love thy neighbor, and slaughter
each other on the battlefield’, every day. I mean we’re doing that for…
since dawn of time. Or since dawn of Homo sapiens,
200,000 years [ago]. But now with seven billion people,
you know, we can’t do that. We cannot do this double lifestyle anymore.
Because, you know… Time’s up. The budget’s been spent.
As simple as that. VICTORIA: So, for you then, did it all
come as a very big surprise? What Greta was unveiling to you? SVANTE: Very much so. I mean, I realized that
something was wrong with the environment. And, like everyone else, you know,
you’re looking for a better car – you know, driven by some biofuel
or something like this. But, you know, we bought an electric car three years
ago, thinking, ‘Wow, we’re gonna fix this.’ But we cannot buy electrical cars,
we cannot… No cars at all. If we are serious about
the 1.5 [°C]… We can’t be driving private cars.
And no one’s talking about it. But, I mean, those are
the harsh facts. VICTORIA: And so Greta basically
has taken you and the people that you engage with
to a point of innovation that’s blank sheets, starting again. SVANTE: Yeah, sure. VICTORIA: And so, Greta, taking your family
and others on that journey with a very logical – very much like your ancestor –
very logical approach to this, what have you found is the most difficult thing,
and what’s been the most surprising? GRETA THUNBERG: The most surprising
thing is that I realized a while ago that people
don’t know that we are in this
emergent situation. We all say we know and we all think
we all know, but we don’t. Because we – of course, we know
something is going on. We know that the planet is warming because of
greenhouse gases caused by humans. But we don’t know the exact
consequences of that. And we don’t know the rapid changes
required to stop it. And so I have met politicians
and journalists that doesn’t have a clue. They don’t know the basic facts. They don’t
know what the Keeling curve is. They don’t know what
the albedo effect is. Just things as simple as that
they don’t have a clue about. STUART: You’re what we call
a six sigma person. Your knowledge of the climate is six standard
deviations out from the average. So if the average journalist does not know what you
know, don’t be surprised in the future. I’d like to return to one comment
you made, Svante. You talked about carbon budget. There is a lot of bullshit
going on out there, that we still have a
carbon budget. Not! We have already spent
our carbon budget. But the politicians have this routine of
kicking the can down the road. And they do that by this notion
of a carbon budget. And they bolster that with information,
research, a report from the IPCC that always seems to say we
still have a few more years. We have no more carbon budget. I want to
dispense with that illusion. We are borrowing from future
generations at this point. We are making their lives
much more difficult. SVANTE: I believe 350 ppm – parts per million –
is the safe threshold, they say. And we passed that threshold in 19… GRETA: 1987. SVANTE: So everything we spent since 1987
has to go back into the ground. Or will be caught up by trees
or whatever, magic solutions that don’t exist yet.
Trees basically. So, I mean that’s where we are at.
And that’s not a good situation. VICTORIA: So, Greta, I mean I can see
you work with data and figures and it affects you. And you understand and you can think about the consequences. For lots of people that’s
quite difficult. And… We have to act. So what do you think it’s going to take, beyond
knowledge, to get people to act? GRETA: I think that one way to make people
realize the situation we are in and to realize the fact, is that the media
actually writes about it. Treat it as a crisis. If one soccer game can gain more media
than the climate crisis, then people will see that and say, ‘Oh, so soccer is
more important than the climate crisis. So that means it’s not
that important.’ VICTORIA: Absolutely. In fact
yesterday, obviously, we had David Attenborough unveiling
the people’s seat and saying very explicitly that we’re on the verge
of a collapse of civilization. There was only one newspaper in the UK
that made that its front page. We have a lot of media people here.
It’s a good opportunity. What do you think that the media
can do to help this, and what can we and you
do to help the media? GRETA: The media can do start with writing
about it all the time, or every headline, every front page only. Because this is… This is so important. People don’t realize
how important it is. We all think that, oh,
people know. We don’t. STUART: I think also the journalists need to
get more activist themselves. SVANTE: Yeah. We meet so many
journalists now, and we get the feeling,
I believe, that most journalists covering this
are so frustrated. And you know so much, and you really want
to turn the world upside down. And we even meet a lot of other journalists who
write about all other things as well. Because now Greta is famous in Sweden. So you get
a lot of the mainstream media as well. And they don’t realize how much power
they actually have. The journalist wants to
write about it. The public service, for instance, in Western Europe
have an enormous responsibility. Enormous, because there aren’t that many public service
news agencies around the world. The few that do exist, in Sweden
for instance, their responsibility is just
on a biblical scale. Because who else can do this who is not,
you know, dependent on money and income from, you know, click journalism
and stuff like this. And the editors, of course, are sort of keep saying,
‘Nah, I can’t do this’, you know. ‘It’s a bit sensitive.’ And sort of, ‘We gotta
get the other side in this.’ You’re treating it as if,
you know, like… Today we say that there’s no black and white issue.
But there are black and white issues. Survival is a black-and-white issue. Climate crisis is a black-and-white issue. And we need the journalists to sort of,
like you said, be more activist. I mean you should take responsibility,
and, you know… I don’t know. Do whatever it takes.
Do whatever you can’t do. You have to… With the situation we have today
you have to, you know… Go out, you know. Leave the chartered area.
Get off the maps. Do new stuff. STUART: Well I was just going to pick out
the one point that, unfortunately the mainstream media
is run by money. In one form or another. Money controls,
money interests control. And I think humanity has to rebel
against the regime of money. SVANTE: But in Western Europe, we have a lot
of media that is not run by money. We have the public service media. And I believe that’s our best hope
if you want one thing that… You know, we have two years to bend
the curve steep down like… You know like, I don’t know, it’s just mad,
like a rollercoaster going down. Public service, Western Europe –
I think it’s up to you. Basically. VICTORIA: So perhaps then, because
one of the last questions was, ‘What next?’ What are your
next plans, and how might that involve something
around media or not? GRETA: I don’t know. I’m just going to sit
outside the Swedish parliament every Friday until Sweden is aligned
with the Paris agreement. And then what happens, happens. STUART: And what’s going
to happen is that thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds
of thousands of students around the world are going to join Greta in
her strike on Fridays. It’s already occurring. There are tens of thousands of students who are
going out of school on Friday now in support. On their own climate strikes in many many
countries around the world. Now, we would like to leave
a little bit of time. We have perhaps five minutes more.
So is there a question? AUDIENCE: Hi, I’m Louisa.
I’m with And I’m also youth observer
for Germany here. So, how do we communicate best that it’s
not just about stop eating meat, but it’s also just about understanding that coal
needs to be something of the past. That we cannot continue
having cheap flights. People won’t stop flying, unless it’s not affordable
or if we just cut these flights down in a sense. GRETA: This is a very
complicated question. It’s a very sensitive
question as well, because if you higher the prices, then only the rich people will be able to afford. And that is not sustainable either. But we… Neither the rich nor the poor
can consume as we do now. SVANTE: I mean, we need a
complete system change. And I believe stop flying and stop eating meat
is just a way of making an opinion for that. I mean, it’s not going to
make any difference. GRETA: It’s not going to make a difference
if one person stops flying. But it’s just… it makes other people think so
that other people do it as well. And if more people do it,
it makes a difference. STUART: There is one solution I think
that’s very promising, which is putting a fee on carbon, and then taking the revenue and distributing
it among the population. And it’s a way of subsidizing the price increases
that will go up because of that. SVANTE: Yeah, I think also, a very central thing is that,
you know, we say we need a system change. So, ‘We should not be doing this as
a private consumer’, you know. But – there is no politics. There are no politics to
solve it, you know, the situation we’re in today. There’s not one single political party that I know of
that will solve this crisis. So we need to create a whole new thing and that’s
why we also need to lead by example. Because that’s, you know… We may not like it,
but in today’s sort of social climate you need to live as you spreak,
err… live as you…. GRETA: Practice as you preach. SVANTE: Yes.


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