The coronavirus pandemic proves the world can “act with necessary force” when faced with a global emergency, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg says.
Speaking on Sweden’s Sveriges Radio, Thunberg said that from a climate perspective there was nothing positive about the coronavirus crisis as changes to daily life had “extremely little similarity” with the extreme action required to deal with climate change.
“The corona tragedy of course has no long-term positive effect on the climate apart from one thing only, namely the insights into how you should perceive and treat an emergency,” she said. “Because during the corona crisis we suddenly act with necessary force.”
The 17-year-old is best known for her environmental activism, leading climate strikes around the world – events that have now gone online.
The pandemic had moved people all over to world to action, Thunberg said.
“All parts of society come together and politicians put their different views aside and cooperate for the greater good of everyone,” she said.
People in positions of power in politics, business and finance have said “they will do whatever it takes,” as “you can’t put a price on a human life” during the pandemic, Thunberg said.
But when millions have died because of air pollution, she said, those lives “we can put a price on.”
“Those words and this treatment of a crisis opens up a whole new dimension because you see every year at least 7 million people die from illnesses related to air pollution,” said Thunberg, citing the World Health Organization.
“Those are apparently peoples whose lives we can put a price on,” she added. “Since they died from the wrong causes and in the wrong parts of the world.”
Thunberg self-isolated from her family earlier this year after believing she had contracted the coronavirus. In her native Sweden, she said, “you don’t get tested unless you are in need of medical help.”
Despite having had what she said were mild symptoms, Thunberg posted about her experience on social media to raise awareness about the virus.
At a CNN Coronavirus Town Hall last month, Thunberg said the pandemic had forced people “to realize that we are actually depending on science and that we need to listen to scientists and experts.”