‘We cannot make it without science’: Greta Thunberg says climate experts are being ignored

Climate experts are not being listened to despite the coronavirus pandemic highlighting the importance of following science, the environmental activist Greta Thunberg has said.

The Swedish teenager argued that the Covid-19 crisis had “shone a light” on how “we cannot make it without science”, but people were “only listening to one type of scientists”.

Her comments came in a joint interview alongside the author Margaret Atwood, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday as part of the two-times Booker prize-winning writer’s guest-editing of the Today programme.

Thunberg was asked if the pandemic’s impact on people’s appreciation of science would have an effect on climate information.

“It could definitely have. I think this pandemic has shone a light on how … we are depending on science and that we cannot make it without science,” Thunberg said.

“But of course, we are only listening to one type of scientists, or some types of scientists, and, for example, we are not listening to climate scientists, we’re not listening to scientists who work on biodiversity and that, of course, needs to change.”

The environmental campaigner expressed scepticism when questioned about nations’ pledges to reduce their carbon emissions, such as China, which has committed to reach net zero by 2060.

“That would be very nice if they actually meant something,” Thunberg said. “We can’t just keep talking about future, hypothetical, vague, distant dates and pledges. We need to do things now. And also net zero … that is a very big loophole, you can fit a lot in that word ‘net’.”

Thunberg said the election of Joe Biden as US president, who has pledged to rejoin the Paris climate agreement on the first day of his presidency, sent a “signal” that “it could be a good start of something new”.

“Let’s hope that it is like that, and let’s push for it to become like that,” she said.

Elsewhere in the interview, Thunberg said she tried to “ignore” content on Twitter, adding: “I were to spend my time trying to defend myself, I wouldn’t be doing anything else.”

She said it was “great” to be back studying at school after a period of campaigning and that she loved studying.

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented the Fridays for Future movement that Thunberg inspired from holding its mass rallies in recent months, which started as a solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament in Stockholm in August 2018.