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Editorial

TOI EDIT-Go Greta Go A Swedish teenager tells the world, solve problems instead of just talking about them

September 20, 2019 06:31 AM

COURTESY TOI EDIT SEPT 20

Go Greta Go
A Swedish teenager tells the world, solve problems instead of just talking about them
Wake up, Greta Thunberg told members of the US Congress this Wednesday. The world came to know her in August 2018 as a Swedish high-school student who protested outside her parliament with a sign reading, ‘school strike for climate change’. It’s a measure of how much traction her message got among youth around the world that within a year she got a respectful hearing from US lawmakers. She had tough words for them: Listen to the scientists, unite behind the science, then take real action.

One poll has found that as many as a quarter of American teens are engaged in climate activism. It’s a generation very alive to the


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impact of climate change on their lives and their future. It also has a feeling of having been betrayed by the previous generations, by baby boomers who burdened their descendants both with their social security bills and a warming planet, selfishly doing nothing to rein in either ballooning debt or climatic dangers.

Don’t bring a speech, bring a plan: the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres’s advice to nations readying to join the UN climate action summit on Monday, echoes Thunberg. The kind of international cooperation that is needed to tackle global problems today, has receded with a rising tide of populist nationalism. One example is how rich countries have not lived up to the Paris Agreement commitment to mobilise $100 billion to help the developing world. Another is how the battle to put out this summer’s Amazon fires was overshadowed by a macho standoff between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and French President Macron.

India has been relatively more serious about mitigating climate change. Recent years have seen a sustained policy push for renewables. There has been a long term effort to protect the forest cover that acts as a carbon sink. Unfortunately, populist nationalism has been taking a big toll here too. Consider how despite the tragic debacle of the Assam National Register of Citizens ruling party politicians speak of extending the exercise across the country; how cow politics has mushroomed despite enormous damage to the rural economy; how job reservations and quotas get much more political oxygen and effort than the work of actually creating more jobs. This playbook shuns the structural reforms needed to rescue the economy. We must not repeat the mistakes of baby boomers. Avoiding problems, letting them fester, will leave a septic legacy for future generations

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