Greta Thunberg looks unimpressed by EU's climate law

Greta Thunberg looks unimpressed by EU's climate law


Greta Thunberg cannot hide how unimpressed she is by European Commission’s new climate law as she declares their 2050 clean air target a ‘surrender’ and ‘giving up’

  • Greta Thunberg attended Commission meeting today where law was unveiled
  • She and fellow activists have already dismissed the new proposals as ‘surrender’
  • Law would commit the EU to reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 

Greta Thunberg looked unimpressed today as she watched EU chiefs unveil a new climate law which she has already dismissed as ‘surrender’. 

The 17-year-old Swedish activist was the star guest at a European Commission meeting in Brussels today where the new legislation was officially proposed. 

The law would commit the 27-member bloc to reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and give Brussels new powers to impose emission targets. 

But the announcement has already fallen flat with environmental groups after Thunberg and dozens of her fellow activists declared the law inadequate. 

Underwhelmed: Climate activist Greta Thunberg (right) with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (left) at a meeting of the EU’ss executive arm today 

Greta Thunberg is welcomed to the European Parliament by its president, David Sassoli, as she visits Brussels to lobby for climate change action today 

The 17-year-old Swedish climate activist sits at the meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels today where she watched EU chiefs unveil a law she has already declared inadequate 

Death stare: Greta Thunberg’s unamused facial expression previously became a meme after she glared at Donald Trump at a United Nations summit last September 

Thunberg sat alongside Commission president Ursula von der Leyen during the meeting at the body’s Brussels headquarters today. 

She is also meeting MEPs, after an exception was made to a coronavirus-related ban on visitors to the European Parliament. 

But she and 33 other youth climate activists have already condemned the EU’s climate plans as insufficient in an open letter. 

‘Net zero emissions by 2050 for the EU equals surrender. It means giving up,’ the letter said.

‘We don’t just need goals for just 2030 or 2050. We, above all, need them for 2020 and every following month and year to come,’ it said.

Thunberg’s unamused facial expression previously became a meme after she glared at Donald Trump at a United Nations summit last September. 

At the same event, she memorably tore into world leaders for their inaction on climate change, asking them repeatedly: ‘How dare you?’.   

Ursula von der Leyen, the German former defence minister who became European Commission chief last year, speaks to Thunberg in Brussels today 

Thunberg arrives for the meeting today with Ursula von der Leyen and other EU officials including Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans (left)

Handing more power to the commission, the EU’s executive arm, faces almost certain opposition from national governments and the European Parliament.

‘Member states and parliament will hate it,’ said Quentin Genard of climate think tank E3G in a blog post. 

‘Even the more pro-European and pro-climate action countries want to keep oversight over climate policies.’ 

The goal of climate neutrality was approved by EU leaders at a rocky summit in June with coal-dependent Poland the only holdout.

The commission, which proposes EU law, has hailed the draft has the cornerstone of a European Green New Deal that also envisages a major investment drive to decarbonise the European economy.  

Critics say the 2050 goal depends too deeply on technology that does not exist and creates a false hope that climate change can be fixed without fundamentally changing the economy or human behaviour. 

Also angering activists, the proposal steps back from the commission’s original ambition to order countries to cut emissions by 50 per cent or even 55 per cent from 1990 levels by the end of this decade. 

Instead, the EU draft accepts that the existing goal to reduce pollution by at least 40 percent by 2030 will be revised by September. 

Ursula von der Leyen gets up from her seat during the Commission meeting today while Greta Thunberg stays sat down to her left 

European Parliament president David Maria Sassoli offers a handshake to Greta Thunberg

Thunberg made an impassioned address on stage at the UN last September (pictured), tearing into world leaders for their inaction on climate change 

That is only two months before the UN climate summit in November, when all parties to the Paris Agreement must make more ambitious pledges to put the world on track to limit global warming to 2.7F (1.5C). 

Twelve EU countries – including France, Italy and the Netherlands but not the EU’s biggest emitter, Germany – want the Commission to revise the 2030 goal in June.

They say that would leave enough time for the EU to adopt the new 2030 target and use it to pressure large emitters such as China to raise their climate pledges before the summit.

‘Delaying discussions until September would crush the EU’s ability to play a leading role in global climate talks,’ Greenpeace climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang said.

The NGO projected an image of flames onto the European Commission building in Brussels on Tuesday, urging leaders to tackle climate change as urgently as if a house were on fire. 

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