Greta Thunberg interviewed David Attenborough and the outgoing Bank of England chief delivered a sobering warning for businesses in a Radio 4 Today show guest-edited by the 16-year-old .
“It’s not like it’s going to change overnight. It needs to be a big shift” Greta said, tackling some of the obstacles to governments reacting to the climate crisis. But once we start to act, she said, “hope will be everywhere.”
The show, dedicated to the concerns of the climate campaigner came as the heads of two UK government environmental organisations warned that 2020 is the “last chance” to bring the world together to tackle climate change to protect communities and nature.
Climate change and damage to nature are already having “dire consequences”, the leaders of government agencies Natural England and the Environment Agency said.
In an article on the Green Alliance website, Natural England chairman Tony Juniper and the Environment Agency’s Emma Howard Boyd write about recent UK flood havoc and a recent study which found two-fifths of the UK’s wildlife has declined over the past 50 years with 13 per cent of English species threatened with extinction.
“It’s clear that 2020 is our last chance to bring the world together to take decisive action on climate change in order to protect our communities and reverse the alarming loss of wildlife we have witnessed in recent years,” Mr Juniper and Ms Howard Boyd wrote.
“Fortunately, during 2020 we will have every opportunity to raise the tempo of action here in the UK. It is expected that a new Environment Bill will soon be presented to parliament containing, among other things, provisions for an ambitious national Nature Recovery Network.” they added.
“That is why, in addition to laws, policies and initiatives, it will be vital to make substantial financial investments into environmental recovery. This includes adequately resourced public bodies with the capability to undertake complex and sometimes controversial work on the ground.”
Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough meet for the first time (on Skype to avoid carbon footprint)
Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough met for the first time on the Today programme she guest-edited (via Skype from Stockholm where she lives – as they did not want to add to their carbon footprints) and discussed the climate crisis and solutions.
The broadcaster and naturalist told the Swedish teen that she had “achieved things that many of us who have been working on the issue for 20 years have failed to do”.
He added that Greta was the “only reason” that climate change became a key topic in the UK general election.
We made changes in our lives to save Greta not the climate, says Greta Thunberg’s father
Greta’s father Svante Thunberg told the show he was “not supportive” of his daughter skipping school for the climate strike movement that spread across the world after she began skipping school to protest outside the Swedish parliament.
Though millions across the world have been inspired to join her campaign for tackling the climate crisis, and her father said his daughter had battled depression and become much happier since becoming an activist, he admitted he worried about the “hate” she faces from people who “don’t want to change” to save the environment.
Mr Thunberg said he hoped things would become “less intense” for his family in the future and that he thinks Greta “really wants to go back to school”.
He added that as Greta turns 17 soon, she would need her parents less on her journeys to fight for climate action.
“If she needs me there, I’ll try to do it,” he said. “But I think she’ll be, more and more, going to do it by herself which is great.”
Greta Thunberg’s parents made changes in their lives to “save” their daughter rather than the climate, according to her father.
Svante Thunberg said his 16-year-old daughter “fell ill” three or four years before going on school strikes, and stopped eating and talking to others.
Asked how she got better, he said he and his wife – opera singer Malena Ernman – took time off from their work and sought help from doctors.
Mr Thunberg added that changes made in their own lives – including his own decision to become vegan – gave Greta energy.
His remarks came during a special edition of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme guest-edited by Greta.
Mr Thunberg said of her climate change activism: “We thought it was a bad idea, just the idea of your own daughter sort of putting herself at the very front line of such a huge question like climate change.
“You wouldn’t want that as a parent.”
He said they spoke several times with Greta before she pursued her campaigning, explaining that she would have to do it by herself and be well prepared for questions she would face – praising her response.
Mr Thunberg also talked about the difficulties that his daughter, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, experienced with depression.
Asked how she got better, Mr Thunberg said: “We just took a very, very long time to spend a lot of time together and just work it out together.”
He said Greta thought her parents were “huge hypocrites” because they were active advocates for refugees, noting that his daughter would ask “Whose human rights are you standing up?” given that they were not taking the climate issue seriously.
Mr Thunberg said his wife stopped flying and had to “change her whole career”.
He added: “To be honest, she didn’t do it save the climate – she did it to save her child because she saw how much it meant to her, and then, when she did that, she saw how much she grew from that, how much energy she got from it.”
He said he “became vegan” and Greta “got more and more energy” from this.
“I knew they were the right things to do because I understood the facts at that time, but I didn’t do it to save the climate, I did it to save my child,” he said.
On the abuse the teenager faces, Mr Thunberg said: “The hate, quite frankly, I don’t know how she does it but she laughs most of the time, she finds it hilarious.”
Carney warns climate crisis could make firms’ assets worthless
The outgoing governor of the Bank of England warned firms that their assets could become “worthless” if they do not wake up to the climate crisis.
He made a chilling warning that funds are investing for a disastrous 3.7 °C of global warming. He said leading pension fund analysis “is that if you add up the policies of all of companies out there, they are consistent with warming of 3.7-3.8C”.
Mr Carney added that the rise of almost 4C was “far above the 1.5 degrees that the people say they want and governments are demanding”.
Scientists say the risks associated with an increase of 4C include a nine metre rise in sea levels – affecting up to 760 million people, as well as searing heatwaves and droughts, and severe food supply problems.
Mr Carney, who will next year start his new role as United Nations special envoy for climate action and finance, added: “The concern is whether we will spend another decade doing worthy things but not enough… and we will blow through the 1.5C mark very quickly. As a consequence, the climate will stabilise at the much higher level.”
Mark Carney, who will step down from the post in March, said the financial sector was starting to curb investment in fossil fuels, but that it is “not moving fast enough”.
Mr Carney said companies “have to make the judgment and justify to the people whose money it ultimately is” in relation to divestment.
Pressed on whether pension funds should divest from fossil fuels even if the returns are attractive, he said: “Well that hasn’t been the case but they could make that argument.
“They need to make the argument, to be clear about why is that going to be the case if a substantial proportion of those assets are going to be worthless.”
And he warned: “If we were to burn all those oil and gases there’s no way we would meet carbon budgets.
“Up to 80% of coal assets will be stranded, (and) up to half of developed oil reserves.”
Mr Carney added: “A question for every company, every financial institution, every asset manager, pension fund or insurer: What’s your plan?”
He described climate change as a “tragedy on the horizon” and warned there would be “more extreme weather events”, but that “by the time that the extreme events become so prevalent and so obvious it will be too late to do anything about it”.
“We look to political leaders to start addressing future problems today,” Mr Carney said.
He also urged climate change sceptics to drop their challenges to the issue, saying: “We can’t afford on this one to have selective information, spin, misdirection… it needs to be absolutely clear because we are all in on it.”
A podcast of the show will be available here and via the BBC Sounds app.