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Greta Thunberg: poster girl of eco-austerity

Climate protesters pose as radicals, while pushing a reactionary agenda.

Angie Speaks

Topics Politics UK World

Fresh from her arrest on Wednesday outside an oil-industry conference in London, Greta Thunberg was back out protesting again the next day. This time, she had joined the ‘Fossil Free London’ demo outside the Canary Wharf headquarters of banking giant JP Morgan.

It wasn’t a large demo by any means. There were a few hundred people, and a few banners calling for an end to oil and gas. Speaking to those present, the message was clear enough. ‘JP Morgan is one of the biggest funders of fossil-fuel projects around the world’, said Etienne Stott, a one-time Olympic canoeist and now an Extinction Rebellion activist. ‘It is engaging in acts that are completely at odds with the survival of the human race.’

The disproportionately large press contingent at this demo was down to Greta. We were all there to catch a glimpse of the star of the climate-alarmist roadshow and to try to snag an interview, which was made all but impossible by the protective ring of protesters surrounding the 20-year-old Swede.

Greta Thunberg shielded by fellow protesters outside JP Morgan's headquarters in Canary Wharf, October 19 2023.
Greta Thunberg shielded by fellow protesters outside JP Morgan's headquarters in Canary Wharf, October 19 2023.

Still, Greta and her not-so-merry band of activists do need interrogating. After all, they present themselves as being on the side of ordinary people against the ‘evil’ fossil-fuel industry and its investors, like JP Morgan. Yet it’s clear that these activists actually have very little concern for the people, especially the least well-off.

A near immediate end of fossil-fuel use, which is what the likes of Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and the rest demand, would have a horrific impact on people around the world. It would make life incredibly tough for the poorest. I asked Stott if he was concerned about this prospect. ‘This is what the concept of climate justice is all about’, he said, vaguely, before muttering something about ‘citizens’ assemblies’.

One young female protester was less circumspect about the possible impacts of eco-austerity. ‘We know that what we are living in is an era of excessive capitalism’, she told me. ‘Everyone needs to have the basics of what they need to survive and thrive, but what we have in the West is absolutely excessive.’

This is a telling statement. It captures the real object of these protesters’ anger and disdain. It’s not JP Morgan and the banks. It’s the supposedly ‘excessive’ levels of consumption of working people. Climate activists’ goal is to force us to accept a lower standard of living, to abandon this era of excessive capitalism, and embrace an era of austere capitalism.

Protesters chanting outside the Barclays Bank branch in Canary Wharf after marching from the nearby JP Morgan building, October 19 2023.
Protesters chanting outside the Barclays Bank branch in Canary Wharf after marching from the nearby JP Morgan building, October 19 2023.

This is not a radical demand at all. The same implicit demand is made by our globe-trotting, green elites. It is what underpins the quest for Net Zero and the endless talk of ‘sustainability’. The United Nations even published a report this month calling for the cessation of fossil-fuel exploration by 2030. Many of the world’s most powerful people are paid-up eco-extremists.

Professional climate activists like Greta Thunberg might pose as champions of the downtrodden. They might line up outside JP Morgan in a display of anti-capitalist virtue. But make no mistake, they are not on the side of the people. They are the vanguard of our green elites.

Angie Speaks is an intern at Spiked.

Pictures by: Getty and Spiked.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics UK World

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