UK carbon emissions target ‘doing more harm than good’ – Thunberg

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By Hannah Thomas-Peter, climate change correspondent, and David Mercer, news reporter

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has told Sky News that the UK's pledge to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is "actually doing more harm than good".

The 16-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee – who has inspired an international movement to fight climate change – urged politicians to act now on the issue or risk being viewed as "some of the greatest villains in human history".

In an interview with Sky News in Stockholm, Thunberg said many young people felt "sad, angry and scared" at the failure of adults – including politicians – to tackle the climate crisis.

'Act now or become history's villains'

"If they don't act now, then in the future they will be seen as some of the greatest villains in human history and we will not judge them easy," she said.

"But, I mean, they can still change that."

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Asked if the UK's commitment to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2050 was a sign of progress, Thunberg replied: "That depends on what you define as progress."

She added: "They are being very proud of what they've accomplished but that's not nearly enough if they are to do their part.

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"You could argue that is better than nothing but I think it's actually doing more harm than good.

"It sends a signal that we can continue like this for I don't know how many more years – 20 more years – and that we can continue like now, which is not good."

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Prime Minister Theresa May announced a legally binding agreement last month to put the UK on the path to end its contribution to climate change in little more than 30 years.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove (left), Former Labour leader Ed Miliband (2nd right) and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (right) at the House of Commons in Westminster, London, to discuss the need for cross-party action to address the climate crisis.
Image: Thunberg met with Environment Secretary Michael Gove and former Labour leader Ed Miliband

It will mean the UK is set to become the first G7 country to legislate for net zero emissions.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industry said: "We fully appreciate the urgency of tackling climate change, and we have listened to the independent expert advice of the committee on climate change who recommended the target of net zero by 2050.

"We are the first major economy to put such an ambitious target in law."

Thunberg, who is from Sweden, spoke in the UK's parliament earlier this year where she told MPs that her future and those of her fellow youngsters had been "sold".

Greta Thunberg spoke to Sky's Hannah Thomas-Peter in New York
Image: Greta Thunberg spoke to Sky's Hannah Thomas-Peter in Stockholm

She first staged a school strike over climate in front of the Swedish parliament in August last year and since then, millions of children around the world have followed her lead in what have become known as Fridays for Future.

The young activist continued to gain international attention after speaking at the UN Climate Talks in Poland in December and at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

Greta Thunberg has inspired young people to act to tackle climate change
Image: There is a growing international youth movement to fight climate change

Thunberg told Sky News that young people were taking action because "we are the ones who are going to live with this".

"Many children understand – more than adults – that it is our children at risk," she said.

"We also have enormous power. As a young person, you always have a natural instinct to rebel in a way and it's very useful in a situation like this."

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