November 16, 2021
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'Use Your Common Sense': Greta Thunberg Slams Congress For Subsidizing Fossil Fuels On Earth Day

Topline

 Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg chastised politicians at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Thursday, which is Earth Day, for being slow to act on climate change and for subsidizing fossil fuels, charging that they still fail to understand the full implications of climate change. 

Key Facts

Thunberg called into the virtual hearing Thursday to give testimony along with scientists and climate activists, but said she wouldn’t spend time reiterating why divesting from fossil fuels is so important, instead urging officials to act on scientific evidence and to “use your common sense.” 

“The fact we are still having this discussion, and even more that we are still subsidizing fossil fuels directly or indirectly using taxpayer money, is a disgrace,” the 18-year-old told representatives. “It is a clear proof that we have not understood the climate emergency at all.”

She went on to slam officials for not following the latest scientific evidence to determine the best environmental policies: “The gap between what we are doing and what needs to be done … is widening by the second,” Thunberg said.

“The simple fact, and uncomfortable fact, is that if we are to live up to our promises in the Paris Agreement, we have to end fossil fuel subsidies and stop new exploration and extraction, completely divest from fossil fuels and keep the carbon in the ground,” Thunberg said.

Even Thunberg was skeptical that Congress will follow her recommendations: “I don’t believe for a second you will actually do this,” Thunberg said, adding there’s not enough pressure from constituents for politicians to divest from fossil fuel companies or turn away their sizable political donations and lobbying, which added up to more than than $250 million last year.

Big Number

$30 billion. That’s how much the fossil fuel industry received from the federal government last year, both in subsidies and direct pandemic relief, environmental subcommittee chair Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) said Thursday.

Key Background

According to the Paris Agreement, earth temperatures should stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2 degrees Celsius of the earth’s preindustrial levels in order to prevent warming temperatures from sparking natural disasters. A United Nations report earlier this year found the world is far behind meeting the reduction targets set out by the accords, slated to decrease global carbon dioxide emissions by less than 1% by 2030. A previous report projected emissions would need to drop by 45%.

Further Reading

Report: World Needs Equivalent Of Pandemic Lockdown Every Two Years To Meet Paris Carbon Emission Goals (Forbes)

The World Has To Cut Carbon Emissions By 45% Under Paris Agreement, But Is Only On Track For A Less Than 1% Decline (Forbes)