Wed 19 Aug 2020 01.00 EDT
We can have as many meetings as we like, but the will to change is nowhere in sight. Society must start treating this as a crisis
‘The gap between what we need to do and what’s actually being done is widening by the minute.’ The Rhenish brown coalfield in Bergheim, Germany, Europe’s largest carbon dioxide source. Photograph: Sascha Steinbach/EPA
On Thursday 20 August, it will be exactly two years since the first school strike for the climate took place. Looking back, a lot has happened. Many millions have taken to the streets to join the decades-long fight for climate and environmental justice. And on 28 November 2019, the European parliament declared a “climate and environmental emergency”.
But over these past two years, the world has also emitted more than 80 gigatonnes of CO2. We have seen continuous natural disasters taking place across the globe: wildfires, heatwaves, flooding, hurricanes, storms, thawing of permafrost and collapsing of glaciers and whole ecosystems. Many lives and livelihoods have been lost. And this is only the very beginning.
Today, leaders all over the world are speaking of an “existential crisis”. The climate emergency is discussed on countless panels and summits. Commitments are being made, big speeches are given. Yet, when it comes to action we are still in a state of denial. The climate and ecological crisis has never once been treated as a crisis. The gap between what we need to do and what’s actually being done is widening by the minute. Effectively, we have lost another two crucial years to political inaction.