Greta Thunberg on ‘greenwashing’ in COP27, The Climate Book, and what she thinks of Elon Musk

It seems King Charles III is not the only one missing COP27 this year. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg is also among the non-attendees as she opens up about her new book

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has said COP27 is a “scam” that allows “greenwashing, lying and cheating” to continue, during a question and answer session at the launch of her latest book “The Climate Book”. The Fridays for Future founder told an audience at London’s Royal Festival Hall that she will not be participating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt this year, as the events were a spectacle that was not “really going to lead to any major changes”.

Greta Thunberg speaks on stage during the global launch of “The Climate Book” (Kate Green/Getty Images)

Speaking to journalist Samira Ahmed, the 19-year-old was candid, saying that it was “very symbolic that it’s held in like a tourist paradise in a country that violates many of the basic human rights”. Thunberg posted a tweet with a petition against Egypt’s human rights violations on 20 October, adding that she stood by “in solidarity with prisoners of conscience” in the country. She also joined protesters on Saturday (29 October) calling for the release of British-Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who has been on hunger strike in prison for the past six months in the north African nation.

She went on to say that COP had instead become an opportunity for leaders and people in power to “get attention”. This was highlighted in Thunberg’s keynote address which accused leaders of preferring to “stay in power and serve the forces of rules than to take their responsibility and safeguard present and future existence”.

NationalWorld attended the event which showcased her new book, looking at the urgency and importance of preventing climate change. She described the writings as “educational” and then joked that it was “ironic” given her position in the School Strike for Climate action. She added that she believed that “once we fully understand the climate emergency and the consequences of it, then we will know what to do”, and that her book was a contribution to that idea.

People are holding a banner from Amnesty International, during a massive climate demonstration organized in Brussels (Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Her publication includes explanatory articles from over 100 climate experts, including renowned climate scientists Katharine Hayhoe and Michael Mann, as well as authors including Margaret Atwood. Ahead of the event, she said: “I want to use my platform to share the reality of the climate crisis – to communicate a holistic picture of how the world is changing and what we need to do about it.”

Asked what she thought about recent protest actions by Just Stop Oil activists which saw them throw soup at Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at London’s National Gallery, Thunberg said: “People are trying to find new methods because we realise that what we have been doing up until now has not done the trick. It’s only reasonable to expect these kinds of different actions.”

Police officers speak to Just Stop Oil supporters (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Given his enormous wealth and power, Ahmed also asked Thunberg what she thought of  the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, his purchase of the social media platform Twitter, as well as his plans to send a SpaceX Starship rocket to space instead of using the money towards climate change action. Thunberg responded that perhaps Musk should “stay grounded longer than travelling in space”.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk (Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images)

And he wasn’t the only mogul mentioned. Former US President Donald Trump has in the past been known to make disparaging remarks about Thunberg, including posting memes mocking the teen environmentalist. In response to a question about how she deals with this, Thunberg ridiculed him, saying that he was “useful” as she ended up sharing those same memes with her friends when communicating and taking credit for it.

In the end, Thunberg said that while there are many individuals including politicians who are trying to help in the fight against climate change, their actions were not going far enough. Even though she said she would never be a politician herself, the teenager said if it was up to her, she would “leave the table and say this is not working anymore”.

The book therefore catalogues ways to combat climate change with concrete examples.  Thunberg called for more people to get involved in climate activism, saying the time had come for “drastic changes” to the status quo. “In order to change things, we need everyone – we need billions of activists,” she said.