Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg questioned the ability of President Joe Biden to be a leader in the global response to climate change, according to an interview published Monday.
“I mean, it’s strange that people think of Joe Biden as a leader for the climate when you see what his administration is doing,” Thunberg told KK Ottesen in an interview with The Washington Post.
Thunberg, who in 2020 backed Biden in the presidential election, made these comments in response to Ottesen asking her if she was inspired by “any of the world leaders, by President Biden?”
“Why Is the U.S. Doing That?”
The teen climate-change firebrand said that under the Biden administration, the country is “actually expanding fossil fuel infrastructure,” the Post reported. “Why is the U.S. doing that? It should not fall on us activists and teenagers who just want to go to school to raise this awareness and to inform people that we are actually facing an emergency,” Thunberg said.
#COP26 welcomed the voices of women who are leading their communities in adaptation and resilience.
— COP26 (@COP26) December 21, 2021
She then explained what, according to her, is the right way that leaders must deal with climate “emergency.”
“First of all, we have to actually understand what is the emergency. We are trying to find a solution of a crisis that we don’t understand. For example, in Sweden, we ignore — we don’t even count or include more than two-thirds of our actual emissions. How can we solve a crisis if we ignore more than two-thirds of it? So it’s all about the narrative. It’s all about, what are we actually trying to solve? Is it this emergency, or is it this emergency?” the 18-year-old activist said.
Thunberg was one of the big names endorsing Biden during his presidential bid. She wrote in an October 2020 tweet, before the presidential election, that “I never engage in party politics. But the upcoming US elections is above and beyond all that.”
I never engage in party politics. But the upcoming US elections is above and beyond all that.
From a climate perspective it’s very far from enough and many of you of course supported other candidates. But, I mean…you know…damn!
Just get organized and get everyone to vote #Biden https://t.co/gFttFBZK5O
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) October 10, 2020
“From a climate perspective, it’s very far from enough and many of you of course supported other candidates. But, I mean…you know…damn! Just get organized and get everyone to vote Biden,” Thunberg wrote.
The Selling Point
Climate change was one of the main selling points of the Biden-Harris campaign in 2020. During his campaign, Biden promised to bring about a “Clean Energy Revolution” through several regulatory actions intended to make the United States “a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050.”
“As president, Biden will lead the world to address the climate emergency,” the Biden Harris campaign website states.
The White House in November released a fact sheet detailing Biden’s ambitious climate change plans. He seeks to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Biden administration also seeks to make the power sector 100 percent carbon-pollution free by 2035. Biden desires to make the economy net-zero by 2050.
Build Back Better is more than a piece of legislation — it’s an agenda, a vision, and a mandate.
We need a whole-of-government approach to delivering it: Congress working for a legislative approach, and the White House pursuing executive action in parallel.
On the path forward: pic.twitter.com/oQgyT7ETPa
— Progressive Caucus (@USProgressives) December 22, 2021
The Build Back Better framework is part of Biden’s plan to “cut greenhouse gas pollution by well over one gigaton in 2030,” according to the White House. The Biden administration said the Build Black Better plan also will “reduce clean energy costs for working families” and “give our kids cleaner air and water.”
Biden’s lofty goals, however, have hit a wall under the current economic and political situation in the United States.
Biden is struggling to pass his Build Back Better plan, which made it through the House of Representatives with no Republican votes. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, whose vote is crucial if the bill is to see the light of day, has expressed opposition to the legislation in tandem with his Republican colleagues, irking progressives and the White House.
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) December 14, 2021
The legislation itself is ridden with several economic and political holes, according to Cato Institute Director of Tax Policy Studies Chris Edwards, who wrote in an October blog post that “The spending would be funded by a $2 trillion tax increase, thus likely damaging investment, hiring, and growth … a $2 trillion tax increase would damage the private sector by about $3 trillion.”
Besides challenges with getting the Build Back Better spending bill passed, Biden also has faced setbacks with his plan to cut back greenhouse gas emissions.
Oil Production Pressures
As the United States struggles with inflation during the COVID-19 pandemic, gas price increases have remained a problem facing many Americans.
In a report shared with CNN, fuel price tracking app GasBuddy projected that by Memorial Day, this country could see a national average price “that flirts with, or in a worst-case scenario, potentially exceeds $4 a gallon.”
This, CNN reported, will only worsen inflationary woes Americans are suffering from under Biden as the nation faces the worst price hikes in nearly 40 years.
#ICYMI, gas prices on Christmas Day 2021 were the HIGHEST ever recorded on that day, at a little over $3.26/gal. Though still breaking records, #gasprices have declined 20¢/gal since early November. pic.twitter.com/N4ccihoYOD
— GasBuddy (@GasBuddy) December 27, 2021
In his first month in office, Biden threw a stopper in the nation’s indigenous oil production by signing an executive order, pausing “new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters” in line with his commitments to cut emissions from fossil fuels. However, as the economic situation worsened toward the end of the year, realities forced Biden to seek an increase in oil production.
When Biden tried to pressure the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost global production, he was met with a rebuff, Forbes reported in November. The OPEC+ nations told Biden that if he thought the world’s economy needs more energy, the United States must produce the required oil itself.
The challenge is that if the United States basically starts producing its own oil, it would be a backslide on Biden’s part from his lofty climate plans.
Thunberg is known for her extreme stance on climate change. With her call for “real zero” emissions worldwide, it is unclear which economically viable climate solution would satiate her.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.