Tackle coronavirus and climate crisis together, says activist Greta Thunberg

April 23, 2020 - 4:43 PM
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg talks to the media before meeting with EU environment ministers in Brussels, Belgium, March 5, 2020. (Reuters/Johanna Geron/File Photo)

STOCKHOLM— People need to tackle both the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis together, Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg told an Earth Day event on Wednesday.

Thunberg, who shot to fame as a 15-year-old when she started skipping school on Fridays to protest outside Sweden’s parliament building over carbon emissions, said that concerted actions to tackle the outbreak of the coronavirus did not mean the climate crisis had gone away.

“Today is Earth Day and that reminds us that climate and the environmental emergency is still ongoing and we need to tackle both the corona pandemic … at the same time as we tackle climate and environmental emergency, because we need to tackle two crises at once,” Thunberg said.

Taking part in a live-streamed event to mark Earth Day, launched 50 years ago to highlight environmental challenges, Thunberg said the outbreak of the coronavirus meant it was more important than ever to listen to scientists and other experts.

“That goes for all crises, whether its the corona crisis or whether it is the climate crisis which is still ongoing and is not slowing down, even in times like these,” she said.

Last year was the hottest on record in Europe, extending a run of exceptionally warm years driven by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, according to a study released on Earth Day.

Thunberg’s school strike sparked a global movement and transformed the now 17-year-old into the equivalent of an environmental rock star.

Founder of the Fridays for Future youth movement, Thunberg’s impassioned demands for action over the climate has captured the imagination of many young people, but irked some world leaders – such as U.S. President Donald Trump – in the process.

Thunberg said in March she had probably had been infected with the coronavirus after travelling to affected countries, though her symptoms were mild and she had not been tested. —Reporting by Simon Johnson, additional reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Alison Williams