Greta Thunberg believes it is time for her to ‘give up the megaphone’ on climate change issues – but called for more ‘civil disobedience’ as eco-protests sweep Europe.
The teenage activist, 19, wants to step out of the limelight to make room for people who are actually suffering the effects of climate change, four years after starting her world-famous ‘school strike for climate’ movement.
But she also wants to see activists ’embrace’ disruptive protests of the kind that have brought roads to a standstill and seen eco-zealots hurl food at famous paintings and glue themselves to museum walls.
Speaking to news agency TT in her native Sweden, Greta said: ‘I think that civil disobedience, if we do it right and no one gets hurt, is something that we have to start embracing more.
Greta Thunberg (left in London this year, and right protesting during the school strikes in Sweden last year) said it is time for her to ‘give up the megaphone’ on climate change
Greta endorsed protesters who have trashed museums and glued themselves to walls, saying that ‘civil disobedience… is something that we have to start embracing’
‘But then it is important that it does not do more harm than good.
‘We are in an emergency and sometimes it feels like people are focusing a little too short-term when it comes to issues like this.’
Greta spoke out as she launches a new book on the climate change and approaches the end of her time in school – admitting she doesn’t know what she’ll do next.
Over the past four years, Greta has risen from a lone activist outside the Swedish parliament to a love-her-or-loathe-her figure that embodies the righteous fury of young people at a planet in crisis, or a sulky teenager – depending on your viewpoint.
Thunberg said she initially believed an urgent debate on the climate was needed to save the world for future generations.
But over time, she said, she has come to understand that the climate crisis is already having devastating consequences on people’s lives.
‘So it becomes even more hypocritical when people in Sweden for example say that we have time to adapt and shouldn’t fear what will happen in the future’, she said.
Thunberg has previously said she would skip the COP27 talks starting Monday in Sharm El-Sheik, slamming it as a forum for ‘greenwashing’.
She told TT her talks with world leaders have left her pessimistic about their ability to make progress on the issue.
‘Some of the things world leaders and heads of state have said when the microphone is off are hard to believe when you tell people’, she said.
‘Like, ‘If I had known what we were agreeing to when we signed the Paris Agreement I would never have signed’, or ‘You kids are more knowledgeable in this area than I am”, she said.
‘The lack of knowledge among the world’s most powerful people is shocking’.
Video captured the moment the furious passer-by jostled with the climate activist for control of the device and sprayed them with paint as they doused the front of the MI5 building on Marsham Street in Westminster
The headquarters of News Corp – which owns publications including The Sun, The Times and TalkTV – in London Bridge was also targeted by the group. It is the second time the building has been vandalised this year by eco activists
Thunberg, who is in her final year of high school in Stockholm, said meanwhile she hasn’t yet decided what she will do after she graduates.
‘We’ll see. If I had to choose today, I would choose to continue my studies. Preferably something that has to do with social issues’, she said.
Meanwhile the climate protest movement that Greta helped kick-start shows no sign of slowing down and is growing more militant.
Early Monday, activists from Just Stop Oil blocked part of the M25 and scaled gantries above the road as part of their latest demonstration disrupting life in the UK.
Louise Harris, 24, was one of more than a dozen protesters who forced road closures during the morning rush hour in defiance of a court order.
Police confirmed 15 arrests have already been made over the demonstrations, though that number is expected to increase later in the day.
Meanwhile activists prevented private planes from taking off at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Saturday – using bicycles to evade pursuing police and security.
The protest was part of a day of demonstrations around the air hub organised by Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion in the build-up to COP27 climate talks in Egypt.
In a separate protest, two female activists glued themselves to the frames of two paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya at Madrid’s Prado Museum.
The two young women are raising awareness of the importance of sticking to the 1.5C limit to global warming, agreed at the Paris summit
Environmental activists wearing white overalls stormed an area holding private jets at Schiphol Airport, located southwest of the capital, before military police moved in and were seen taking dozens of the protesters away in buses
The pair scrawled the message +1.5 degrees Celsius between the paintings they targeted – the Naked Maja and the Clothed Maja – a reference to the goal for global warming set at COP26, which experts say the world is on track to miss.
The activists identified themselves as belonging to Futuro Vegetal, which literally means Vegetable Future and is a movement linked to Extinction Rebellion Spain.
The latest museum protest follows close on the heels of an incident last month in which activists from Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London.
Days later climate activists threw mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in Germany.
Most recently on Friday a group of activists threw pea soup onto a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece in Rome, in a protest they warned will continue until more attention was paid to climate change.
‘The Sower’, an 1888 painting by the Dutch artist depicting a farmer sowing his land under a dominating sun, was exhibited behind glass and undamaged.
Security intervened immediately and removed the protesters kneeling in front of ‘The Sower’ at the Palazzo Bonaparte. Protesters from the same group, the Last Generation, earlier blocked a highway near Rome.