‘We the young people are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books …so my advice for you is to choose wisely.’
If progressive U.S. lawmakers were expecting encouragement from influential climate activist, the 18-year-old Greta Thunberg, she wasn’t delivering this Earth Day.
Thunberg was called to virtually address a House subcommittee, chaired by the Democrats in the majority, that is reviewing ending fossil-fuel subsidies. Her appearance — on an arguably much smaller stage considering that past tours for the Time Person of the Year included the United Nations — played against the 40-nation climate summit led by President Biden also taking place Thursday.
Thunberg wasted few words in insisting that old thinking has to go.
“The simple fact, and uncomfortable fact, is that if we are to live up to our promises and commitments in Paris, we have to end fossil fuel subsidies … now,” she said. The U.S. rejoined the voluntary Paris agreement in February, after former President Donald Trump pulled out, citing heavy emissions from China, India and Brazil.
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“I don’t believe for a second that you will actually do this,” Thunberg lectured the lawmakers of the House Oversight Committee’s environmental subcommittee.
“You still have time to do the right thing and to save your legacies, but that window of time is not going to last for long,” she added. “We the young people are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books …so my advice for you is to choose wisely.”
Exactly how much the oil and gas sector receives varies by who’s making the argument, with some analysts penciling in pollution damages for which the government foots the bill to the energy-sector total.
Estimates vary from around $20 billion to as much as $650 billion a year, the larger figure from the International Monetary Fund. In 2018, the total revenue of the U.S. oil and gas industry came to about $181 billion.
Rep. Ro Khanna of renewables-embracing California, the head of the subcommittee, wants quicker action from Biden to end fossil fuel subsidies as part of a plan to rebuild U.S. infrastructure.
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Biden has said “I don’t think the federal government should give handouts to Big Oil.” Only recently has pricing for wind and solar energy, fronted by tax credits and other breaks, gotten more competitive against traditional energy alternatives
“We appreciate that President Biden ran on ending fossil fuel subsidies. But the details matter,” Khanna said in a statement released prior to the hearing. “Exactly four months into this administration, progressives are looking for tangible and specific commitments from the administration to follow through on its own platform.”
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Biden’s Earth Day gathering, meanwhile, featured another worried teen, wary of the planet’s future in the hands of older leaders.
Mexico’s Xiye Bastida, who has joined Thunberg’s Fridays for Future school sitout campaign, told world leaders the climate crisis is the result of powerful people like them who are “perpetuating and upholding the harmful systems of colonialism, oppression, capitalism and market-oriented brainwashed solutions″ to global problems.
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