The best part of a year ago, Swedish schoolchild Greta Thunberg started protesting outside Sweden’s parliament, demanding more action on the issue of climate change. Fast forward to now, Thunberg — who follows a vegan diet — has quickly become a household name, synonymous with climate action.
She has held governments accountable, made damning speeches, and accused the grown-ups of taking away the future of the next generation.
Many grown-ups are listening; the UK has declared a climate emergency, as has Canada, France, and New York.
Some grown-ups have simply heard. Earlier this month, Mohammed Barkindo — the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — acknowledged growing public opinion surrounding climate change as a threat. He stated it was “beginning to … dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry.”
OPEC is Falling Out of Favor
He added that OPEC officials were starting to feel the pressure from their own families. “[Their children] are asking us about their future because … they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry,” he stated. He went on to accuse campaigners of misleading people with unscientific arguments, reports The Guardian.
The oil industry is scared of a 16-year-old — and all the other teens and adults now motivated to care about our planet — and it should be.
When she heard that climate change activists had been acknowledged by OPEC, Thunberg wasn’t frustrated with his comments. She was pleased. If the secretary general of a trillion dollar intergovernmental oil organization sees you as a threat, you’re doing something right. She Tweeted in response to Barkindo’s comments, “Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet.”
Holly Gillibrand, a UK student who has protested for climate action, said to The Guardian, “brilliant! Proof that we are having an impact and be sure that we will not stop.”
OPEC wants to keep expanding, but more and more of the world is turning its back. Insurance companies are pulling investments from fossil fuel assets, notes The Guardian, and the London Stock Exchange has reclassified oil and gas companies under a non-renewable energy category “that effectively puts them on the wrong side of climate crisis,” says the newspaper.
“By this point, most people realise that the oil companies lied for decades about global warming – they are this generation’s version of the tobacco companies,” 350.org founder Bill McKibben said. “It’s clearly affecting their ability to raise capital, to recruit employees and so on. People set out to cost them their social licence, and it’s working.”
He added, “whether it’s working fast enough – that’s another question.”