Laying it out straight: Greta Thunberg boldly told off world leaders at Davos, accusing them of being equally complicit in climate denial | Image credit: Standdard.be

Swedish teen Greta Thunberg inspires mass protests against climate change

The solo protest of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg outside Sweden’s parliament last year has snowballed into a global movement with schoolchildren taking to the streets urging governments to take climate action in Australia, Finland, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland. Nearly 50,000 children marched in Brussels alone in the last one week.

Thunberg, meanwhile, continues her protest and just two weeks ago, told the Davos elite, to their faces, that they were responsible for the climate crisis. On September 9 last year, Thunberg refused to go to school and sat on strike outside Parliament to draw attention to the climate crisis, arguing: “what’s the point of studying if politicians refuse to listen to science.”

WTO chief shocker: ‘Trade does not impact the environment’

On the same day that 30,000 students in Brussels skipped school to demand action against climate change and Greta Thuberg made her impassioned plea at Davos, Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the WTO, told the Davos elite that trade didn’t impact the environment. Azevedo made the claim in context of the environmental impact of shipping goods around the world.

He said: “…products that find their way into trade flows are usually much less harmful to the environment than the ones which are produced locally, because they have to observe the standards of the consuming country.” He added: “This whole argument that there is an impact on the environment, I stand to be corrected, but I haven’t seen one, single credible study that shows that.”

Experts point out that the WTO’s own 2010 report established links between increased trade  and deforestation, saying that trade liberalisation increased deforestation in Mexico, Tanzania, Thailand, Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia, Brazil and other places.

A Harvard study has revealed that trade and growth worsen environmental degradation, mainly through CO2 emissions.

Oil major BP to listen to shareholders, align strategy with Paris climate goals

British oil and gas major BP said it will listen to its shareholders who want it to begin reporting on how its strategy fits with the Paris Agreement’s goals. The Climate Action 100+ group of more than 300 investors, who hold around $32 trillion in assets, will present the shareholder resolution at BP’s annual general meeting in May, rewiring BP to set out a business strategy that it considers, “in good faith”, to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and aim for 1.5°C.

An agreement with shareholders also means that the company would have to evaluate whether each new material capital investment is consistent with the climate agreement.

Chile names first woman in eight years to lead UN climate summit

Carolina Schmidt of Chile is the president-designate of this year’s UN climate summit, COP25. She will be the first woman to play the role since South Africa’s Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in 2011.

Schmidt may have successfully convinced Chile’s environment minister to host the talks after Brazil backed out. But the real battle lies ahead: to negotiate on tough issues, including carbon markets, which the Paris Agreement rulebook could not resolve at COP24. Schmidt has a strong grounding in the debate, as she was one of the ministers appointed to lead talks on the issue in Katowice.

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