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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (Photo: AP)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (Photo: AP)

Opinion | The Greta budget

An abrupt stop to the use of oil, gas and coal would result in an economic seizure

Does Greta Thunberg need an eco education? In ecology, most certainly not, but in economics? That’s what US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin advised the 17-year-old green activist on Friday, suggesting that she was clueless about how the world works. This was in response to her demand at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos that fossil fuels be given up right away. In one way, Mnuchin is right. An abrupt stop to the use of oil, gas and coal would result in an economic seizure. They are the world’s primary energy source, and an instant switchover to renewables is impossible. But he is wrong about the adequacy of her knowledge.

As Thunberg tweeted: “My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realize that our remaining 1.5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up." In support, she had a graph from a United Nations Environment Programme report that placed the crisis in sharp relief. At the current rate of emissions, the global goal of capping temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius could be lost by 2027. The deficit in reduction efforts is just too vast

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