Many expected Swedish teen-turned-environmental-activist Greta Thunberg to be a fixture at the Climate Change Conference which starts Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. After a few years of having a lot to say about the environment, it’s easy to understand why participants would count on seeing her in Glasgow.
However, Thunberg is sitting this one out.
Why is she skipping the Glasgow Conference? Thunberg is protesting over “vaccine inequality” and other social justice issues.
On Friday Nov 5 I’ll join the climate strike in Glasgow, during #COP26 Climate justice also means social justice and that we leave no one behind. So we invite everyone, especially the workers striking in Glasgow, to join us. See you there! #UprootTheSystem
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) October 25, 2021
Despite the high hopes for this conference, environmental activists have threatened to boycott or protest the conference over “vaccine inequality,” and Thunberg is among those concerned.
“Nothing has changed from previous years really,” Thunberg said in a recent interview with The Guardian. “The leaders will say we’ll do this and we’ll do this, and we will put our forces together and achieve this, and then they will do nothing. Maybe some symbolic things and creative accounting and things that don’t really have a big impact.”
The United Nations has given the conference a greater sense of urgency, stating that nations need to take more stringent action to combat climate change.
One thing that environmental activists like Thunberg are arguing these days is that Western media outlets need to pay more attention to concerns in the Southern hemisphere:
“The climate crisis isn’t just about extreme weather. It’s about people,” she penned in coordination with Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate-justice activist. “And while the Global South is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, it’s almost never on the front pages of the world’s newspapers.
“You have the resources and possibilities to change the story overnight,” they continued. “Whether or not you choose to rise to that challenge is up to you. Either way, history will judge you.”
Thunberg’s expanded concern for social justice includes the call for increased access to vaccines for developing nations. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one leader who has responded to that concern, offering to pledge more vaccines to nations who need them.
What does this new Greta Thunberg, who has committed herself to more than just climate concerns look like? Her Guardian interview doesn’t explain much — the article focuses much more on her personal growth — other than the fact that she recently attended a protest against violence in Afghanistan.
It will be interesting to see what her November 5 protest attempts to accomplish and what her expanded outlook will entail. Stay tuned.