Find Us

Greta Thunberg says EU law to tackle climate change is 'surrender'

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg Copyright JOHN THYS/AFP or licensors
Copyright JOHN THYS/AFP or licensors
By Pauline Bock
Published on Updated
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

"This climate law is surrender. Nature doesn't bargain, and you cannot make deals with physics", Greta Thunberg told the European Parliament on Wednesday.


Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg branded EU legislation to tackle climate change as a "surrender."

She said its Green Deal package of measures gives the world "much less than a 50 per cent chance" to limit global warming to 1.5℃.

You can watch her speech in the video player, above.

As she went to attend the Environment Council in Brussels on Thursday, Thunberg told reporters that, despite her youth movement for climate "appreciating" that the EU is trying to do more, "it's pretty much the same message: 'We're gonna try to do more, we're going to step up our ambitions', but still no real sense of urgency."

She also criticised the media for failing to report on the urgent issue of the impact of climate change: "The media write a lot about me but not the content of what I say, they write about the climate but not the climate crisis", she said. "We need to make sure that we leave no one behind and that everyone is part of the transition", she added.

'This climate law is surrender'

Thunberg told MEPs on Wednesday that they are "giving up" on stopping global warming.

"You admit that you are giving up, on the Paris agreement, on your promises and on doing what you can to ensure a safe future for your own children," she said. "This climate law is surrender. Nature doesn't bargain, and you cannot make deals with physics."

"Your distant targets will mean nothing if high emissions continue like today, even for just a few more years, because that will use up our remaining carbon budget before we even have the chance to deliver on your 2030 or 2050 goals," she explained.

Thunberg said "no policy, plan or deal will be nearly enough" as long as the bloc "continues to ignore CO2 budgets which apply for today".

"Pretending a law that no one has to follow is a law, pretending that you can be a climate leader and still go on building and subsidising new fossil fuel infrastructure, pretending that empty words will make this emergency go away... this must come to an end," she said.

The young activist instead offered another way: "We simply need to change our behaviour, our society."

She called for the EU to lead the way forward, citing the bloc's moral obligation to do so: "You have a real political and economical opportunity to become a real climate leader. You said this was an existential threat, now you must prove that you mean it."

The EU Green Deal legislation sets legally binding targets to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050.

"This means achieving net-zero emissions for EU countries as a whole, mainly by cutting emissions, investing in green technologies and protecting the natural environment", according to the European Commission.

The Commission's aim is to "make the EU the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050".


'Lacks urgency'

President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday the climate law "offers predictability and transparency for European industry and investors" and "gives direction to our green growth strategy and guarantees that the transition will be gradual and fair".

"We are turning words into action today, to show our European citizens that we are serious about reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050," said Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal.

"The climate law will ensure we stay focused and disciplined, remain on the right track and are accountable for delivery."

But Imke Lübbeke, head of climate and energy at WWF's European office, said the new law lacks urgency.


"This proposal is only a compass pointing us in the general direction of climate neutrality. It needs to drive massive emissions reductions starting today," Lübbeke said.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Greta Thunberg’s climate activism isn’t enough. We need to put words into action ǀ View

Ursula von der Leyen is re-elected president of the European Commission by large majority

At least seven killed in an apartment fire in Nice