EU climate targets 'would not be here' without millennial activism

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg at Davos. Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

The EU’s new far-reaching plan to slash emissions “would not be here” without young activists demanding action on climate change, according to a senior European politician.

Frans Timmermans, an executive vice-president at the European Commission, praised younger generations for protesting and injecting urgency into efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

He was speaking at an event at Davos to highlight the EU’s ‘Green Deal,’ a package of reforms aimed at making Europe the world’s first ‘climate-neutral continent’ by 2050.

The measures unveiled last month include targets not only to reduce emissions, but also to invest in research and preserve the natural environment.

Dutch politician Timmermans said at the event at the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Switzerland on Thursday: “It’s very clear — without Generation Z, without millenials we would not be here.

“They are going to the streets. They are shaping the politics of the future. They are taking this into their hands, and that’s a good thing.”

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It comes as the Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has attracted many headlines after being invited to this year’s Davos summit for the second year in a row.

She became embroiled in a spat with US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday, after he said she should go and study economics before calling for fossil fuel divestment.

Thunberg hit back on Twitter: “It doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1.5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.”

Timmermans also said there had been a rise in public concern about climate change that affected the European parliamentary elections last May.

“Why are we here? Because everyone saw, all the politicians who were in the EU elections, that this is the one issue that captures the imagination of Europeans across the continent.

“It’s one of the few issues where no one doubts that we need to act on a continental scale if we really want to make a difference.”

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