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Thunberg accuses leaders of 'creative PR' at climate talks

Thunberg: talk less act more

Activist Greta Thunberg on Wednesday accused governments and businesses of misleading the public by holding climate talks that are not achieving real action against what she called the world's “climate emergency.”

In a speech peppered with scientific facts about global warming, the Swedish 16-year-old told negotiators at the U.N.'s climate talks in Madrid that they have to stop looking for loopholes for their countries' actions and face up to the ambition that is needed to protect the world from a global warming disaster.

“The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR,” said Thunberg, who later Wednesday was named Time magazine's ”person of the year."

“Finding holistic solutions is what (this meeting) should be all about, but instead it seems to have turned into some kind of opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes and to avoid raising their ambition,” she added, to wide applause.

About 40 climate activists, including indigenous people from several continents, briefly joined Thunberg after her speech on the conference's main stage, holding hands and demanding "Climate Justice!" through slogans and songs.

Time magazine said Thunberg won its 2019 award “for sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads.”

Climate negotiators in Madrid also had one eye on Brussels, where the European Union announced a 100-billion euro ($130-billion) plan to help wean EU nations off fossil fuels.

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said she hoped the “European Green Deal” would "give the discussions here a boost."

"It's a really important signal if the EU puts protecting the climate centre stage in this way," she told reporters in Madrid.

The European Commission hopes the fund will help the regions that stand to be hit the hardest financially by the transition to cleaner industries — namely Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, which rely heavily on coal-fired power plants. Those nations have yet to commit to the EU’s goal of having net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.



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