News & Opinion

“Two of the most visible climate campaigners” meet for the first time

The Guardian Weekend publishes one of the most important exchanges within the climate change campaign, between Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they discuss hope, perseverance and change.

The 16 year-old Swedish school girl Greta Thunberg, who has become known for her thought-provoking action against climate change and the youngest female in congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, had a telephone exchange documented in The Guardian’s Weekend climate change special. The article – which included a full manuscript of the whole conversation between the two female activists – focuses on the need for immediate action, as well as the increasing involvement of the younger generation, as they campaign for change in an issue which is affecting their future.

The two bonded over the backlash they have faced throughout campaigning, such as their seemingly younger age. Preconceptions like them being “too inexperienced, too naïve, too young, and too powerless” have been held against them, yet both now have more courage than ever. The campaigners also agree with the fact that the younger generation are the most dedicated group within the movement with the suggestion that there is a strong association between age and the lack of acceptance for the situation. Ocasio-Cortez discussed that just because you are older doesn’t mean you cannot be part of a youth movement, but you can’t just do things because “that’s the way they’ve always been done”.

The issue of ignorance towards climate change in both the United States and Sweden is widely discussed by the two, in Sweden Thunberg commented: “everyone accepts that it’s a fact. But still we aren’t talking about it, and it’s not a priority. We are just treating it like any other issue.”

Thunberg gained a voice in the campaign through her efforts of skipping school in order to protest. This later encouraged thousands of school children to strike in cities across Europe. Her enthusiasm for the cause is what drives her to campaign for everyone to act against climate change, she added: “what I find encouraging is having all these people who are fighting on different sides in different ways, to create a better future and to make us avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.”

Ocasio-Cortez gained large amounts of recognition when she was elected into congress as the democratic representative of New York’s 14th congressional district. Despite being in office for less than a year, she has already submitted the Green New Deal to the senate, calling for the achievement of net-zero greenhouse gases within a decade.

Both plan to attend the UN Climate Action summit in the US, which will be the first time the two will meet in person. There is still uncertainty shown by Thunberg as to how she will travel as she won’t fly for climate reasons.

Lucy Markham 02/07/19

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