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ENVIRONMENT

Sweden: Thunberg ‘looking for lift across Atlantic’ for Spanish climate summit

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg had made it half-way from Sweden to Chile by boat, train and electric car when next month's UN climate summit was unexpectedly scrapped.

Sweden: Thunberg 'looking for lift across Atlantic' for Spanish climate summit
Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth/TT

But as a new venue was announced Friday for the gathering called COP25  — this time in Spain — the 16-year-old didn't bat an eyelid: she simply asked for a lift back across the Atlantic.

“As #COP25 has officially been moved from Santiago to Madrid I'll need some help,” Thunberg tweeted from Los Angeles.

“It turns out I've traveled half around the world, the wrong way:)” “Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November… If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful,” said the teen, who refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions involved.

Thunberg's highly publicized journey has so far involved crossing on a zero-emission sailboat from the coast of England to New York, traveling overland through North America by train and in an electric car borrowed from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

She was one of around 25,000 delegates expected in Santiago for the United Nations climate summit, until Chile pulled out as host this week due to deadly anti-government protests.

The United Nations announced Friday that COP 25 will finally take place in Madrid, on the original scheduled dates of December 2-13.

The Swedish teen activist Thunberg rose to prominence last year after she started spending her Fridays outside Sweden's parliament, holding a sign reading “School strike for climate.”

Students across the world began emulating her campaign, leading to organized school walkouts and the rise of the “Fridays for Future” movement which targets government action on climate change.

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ALMEDALEN 2022

Green Party leader: ‘Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament’

Per Bolund, joint leader of Sweden's Green party, spoke for thirteen and a half minutes at Almedalen before he mentioned the environment, climate, or fossil fuels, in a speech that began by dwelling on healthcare, women's rights, and welfare, before returning to the party's core issue.

Green Party leader: 'Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament'

After an introduction by his joint leader Märta Stenevi, Bolund declared that his party was going into the election campaign on a promise “to further strengthen welfare, with more staff and better working conditions in healthcare, and school without profit-making, where the money goes to the pupils and not to dividends for shareholders”. 

Only then did he mention the party’s efforts when in government to “build the world’s first fossil-free welfare state”. 

“We know that if we want welfare to work in the future, we must have an answer to our time’s biggest crisis: the threat to the environment and the climate,” he said.

“We know that there is no welfare on a dead planet. We need to take our society into a new time, where we end our dependency on oil, meet the threat to the climate, and build a better welfare state within nature’s boundaries, what we call a new, green folkhem [people’s home].” 

He presented green policies as something that makes cities more liveable, with the new sommargågator — streets pedestrianised in the summer — showing how much more pleasant a life less dependent on cars might be.  

He then said his party wanted Sweden to invest 100 billion kronor a year on speeding up the green transition, to make Sweden fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

“We talk about the climate threat because it’s humanity’s biggest challenge, our biggest crisis,” he said. “And because we don’t have much time.” 

In the second half of his speech, however, Bolund used more traditional green party rhetoric, accusing the other political parties in Sweden of always putting off necessary green measures, because they do not seem urgent now, like a middle-aged person forgetting to exercise. 

“We know that we need to cut emissions radically if we are even going to have a chance of meeting our climate goal, but for all the other parties there’s always a reason to delay,” he said. 

“We are now seeing the curtain go up on the backlash in climate politics in Sweden. All the parties have now chosen to slash the biofuels blending mandate which means that we reduce emissions from petrol and diesel step for step, so you automatically fill your tank in a greener way. Just the government’s decision to pause the  reduction mandate will increase emissions by a million tonnes next year.” 

The right-wing parties, he warned, were also in this election running a relentless campaign against the green party. 

“The rightwing parties seem to have given up trying to win the election on their own policies,” he said. “Trying to systematically push out of parliament seems to be their way of trying to take power. And they don’t seem above any means. Slander campaigns, lies, and false information have become every day in Swedish right-wing politics.” 

He ended the speech with an upbeat note. 

“A better, more sustainable world is possible. There is a future to long for. If you give us a chance then that future is much closer than you think!”

Read the speech here in Swedish and here in (Google Translated) English. 

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