Catherine Scott: Greta Thunberg may have shamed the world’s governments, but we still have a personal responsibilty when it comes to climate change

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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After listening to Greta Thunberg’s emotional and impassioned speech at the UN climate action summit I was left thinking why has it taken a child to actually get people to listen to what the experts have been saying for decades?

The 16-year-old Swedish activist may divide opinion but as adults in the room in New York shuffled papers and looked embarrassed, as they should do, few could argue about the power of what she had to say. She blamed those powerful men and women for stealing her childhood and betraying her generation. She made them squirm as she said how worry about global warming had made her ill.

Those super powers just didn’t know where to put themselves - well all exception Donald Trump of course who has since taken to Twitter to undermine what Thunberg had to say.

But she isn’t saying anything that environmental experts haven’t been saying for years. She just has the power of youth and a flair for oratory that is making people sit up and take notice.

She is galvanising a generation of young people into direct action and by the look of the faces of the politicians at the UN summit she has got them scared.

But we need more than fear we need action, Some commentators say that Thunberg’s dominance of the headlines this week after her speech will detracts from the progress that some nations have made towards their target of ending carbon emissions by 2050. They will not meet it but the climate summit did reveal that in many cases changes were being made - and not before time, It will take people like Greta Thunberg to keep that pressure on and to stop us hitting massive disaster head on.

However I do think while lambasting governments she also needs to emphasis the level of personal, responsibilty that we all, including her generation, have when he comes to reducing carbon emission.

I have a 16-year-old daughter and although she is interested in the world around her, I don’t think she would swap fast fashion for a charity shop number any time soon.

However she does use reselling fashion sites, has ditched plastic straws and single use plastics in favour of taking a bamboo cup to school. We still have a bit of way to go when it comes to switching off the lights and letting the hot water tap run.

It may seem trivial when it comes to the scale of action that young Greta Thunberg is taking, but if every 16-year-old - or every person for that matter - just made some changes to the way they live then it will start to make a difference.