GReta Thunberg is small, really small for her age. Even those who have never seen them on TV or at a show, will probably know that. Because the media have written a lot about the childlike aura of this 16-year-old Swede with the braids, which has been on strike for climate protection for seven months on every Friday, triggering the now Europe-wide protest movement "Fridays for Future".
But just as little Greta is now sitting there in a Brussels conference center, right in front of a podium on which Europe's power sits, including EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, it makes a very bizarre picture.
After all, there is no sign of Greta when she speaks at a conference on the future of Europe in Brussels. It is surrounded, indeed swallowed up, by a crowd of TV people, photographers and curious people with smartphones who absolutely want to capture a picture of the young climate activist.
Juncker left Sprachkitsch away
However, the face of Jean-Claude Juncker, who sits enthroned behind her, can be seen all the time while an invisible Greta reads her speech. And the highest representative of the EU does not look happy at all.
Now the expression may have been moved by the fact that Juncker had to endure an exhausting Brexit conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May the night before. He said that he was still recovering from this and that he had trouble concentrating on what he said, the President later admitted. There might also be a slight pain on the left cheek that graced a plaster. Supposedly, the president cut while shaving.
But probably it was also the words of Greta Thunberg, the relentless, sometimes sarcastic, even condescending tone of the little Swede, who made Juncker bitter. If he had greeted her with his usual charm at first with a kiss of the hand, he dropped one or two references to his displeasure following Greta's short post.
It all began when Juncker – unlike other speakers before and after him – did not engage in emotionalizing, often accompanying Greta Thunberg's performances. The Belgian Karl-Heinz Lambertz, for example, President of the Committee of the Regions, informed the audience that he felt "extremely honored and very touched" that he could speak to Greta Thunberg.
Juncker completely omitted such language kitsch. Yes, he mentioned Greta's name, except briefly in the beginning, not even personally. He emphasized that he liked it when the youth got involved. He also did that, "at the age of 16, 17, 18, in my prime". But he had his engagement always on Sunday afternoons, not during school time – side cut number one towards Greta.
"You cheat if you can"
She had caught laughter and applause in her speech by saying, "We know that most politicians do not want to talk to us. Well. Because we also do not want to talk to them. "Greta Thunberg subsequently created a picture of the political leadership in Europe that does nothing, does not listen, always distracts from the essential, which is all about growth and power.
"The political system that you have built is all about competition. They cheat if you can, because the only thing that matters is to win and gain power. That has to end, "says Thunberg. No wonder that the EU Commission President does not want to sound that smiling.
And so, as a replica, he said that, first, there are still more problems than the climate change that politics has to deal with, for example, Africa. That the EU also spent every fourth euro "for climate purposes" in the future seven-year budget. That people – especially in diverse, diverse Europe – things can not simply dictate, even if they could be useful. Example harmonized toilet flushes. "That would save us a lot of energy," said Juncker. But that would put Brussels in the wrong direction.
Juncker even mentions beekeeping program
Finally, he pointed out that the EU had spent an investment program of € 380 billion during his term of office. "Much of it went into environmental projects." So much for the charge of being inactive. Juncker even mentioned the EU's bee protection program and the focus on environmental protection even in trade agreements with Japan and Canada. Quite obviously, he did not like being portrayed by a 16-year-old as one of the "biggest villains in history".
"We have to focus every inch of our being on climate change," Greta had warned. Otherwise, today's politicians would be "remembered as the greatest losers in history – or the greatest criminals of all time, because they have decided not to listen and not to act." Instead of doing anything, politicians would shed all their filth under the carpet and wait for her generation to cleanse him up.
That's why, Thunberg said, the EU needs its CO2– Align targets again drastically. The agreed reduction of greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030 is not sufficient, although it is often said that the agreement is "good and ambitious". Do not be them, says Greta Thunberg – far from it. Rather, a reduction must be made by 80 percent. "Otherwise there will be an irreversible chain reaction."
The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 calls for global warming to be kept well below two degrees in this century. The EU has set itself the target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete also believes that a reduction of 45 percent is possible with the measures taken so far. But 80 percent is far from what seems possible.
Greta Thunberg seemed timid
Asked later in a small press conference if she was satisfied with Juncker's responses to her speech, Greta Thunberg said only one word at first, and she seemed shy, a little overwhelmed by the great interest in her person: "No." Then added she still, what had disturbed her: "I had the feeling, he has avoided the problem a bit."
Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, got absolution from the Swede. Merkel expressed her skepticism about the Swedish climate activist and her involvement with thousands of young people, which triggered them. Merkel guessed that there had to be "external influences" for such a movement.
Thus, she alluded to the hybrid warfare of Russia, which focuses on targeted propaganda and disinformation. "That suddenly all German children – after years without any external influence – come up with the idea that you have to make this protest, you can not even imagine," Merkel surmised and made with this statement for amazement.
She is now accustomed to being presented as puppets with her fellow combatants who could not think for themselves, said Greta Thunberg in Brussels. "This is an attempt to distract attention from the climate crisis." But Angela Merkel certainly did not want to imply that she was a Russian spy. "That must have been an unfortunate formulation or translation," says Greta Thunberg. "Anything else would be absurd."