Greta Thunberg’s father today revealed he thought it was ‘a bad idea’ for his 16-year-old daughter to join the ‘front line’ against climate change and denied he was the mastermind behind her eco-campaign.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, guest edited today by his daughter, Svante Thunberg said he was ‘not supportive’ of her skipping school for the climate strike but didn’t stop it because her family ‘ran out of arguments’.
But when asked if he was proud of his daughter, who was recently named Time magazine’s person of the 2019, he said: ‘Not at all. I don’t care about pride. She’s happy. I’m proud that I’ve contributed just a tiny bit. By listening to her. I’m pleased that we chose to listened to her’.
Mr Thunberg also revealed that in around 2016 Greta was suffering with crippling depression and stopped talking and eating for three months while refusing to go to school.
Mr Thunberg said that he and Greta’s mother Malena, an opera singer and former Eurovision contestant, had stopped work during their daughter’s depression, calling it the ‘ultimate nightmare for a parent’. But he said her climate change battle has ‘saved’ her, adding Greta finds any personal criticism ‘hilarious’.
Miss Thunberg’s eco-heavy Today programme featured an interview with Sir David Attenborough, who praised the teenager and said she had ‘woken up the world’ to climate change and achieved more in a year than he had in decades.
He said: ‘You have made it an argument people can’t dodge. People of my generation should be very grateful to you’.
He said: ‘I don’t know how she does it but she laughs’.
Describing how he and his wife handled her campaign the Swede said: ‘We said: ‘We would not support it. If you’re going to do this you’re going to do it by herself’.
Greta then started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018, which has since spread all over the world to involve more than 100,000 schoolchildren.
She arrived in New York in August after a 15-day, 3,000-mile voyage across the Atlantic to take part in a UN climate summit having sailed from Plymouth. She then set sail in November from the US to a UN climate summit in Madrid, Spain, because she refuses to fly.
Her father has taken part in some of these events but denies he is an environmental activist himself.
He said: ‘I did all these things, I knew they were the right thing to do… but I didn’t do it to save the climate, I did it to save my child.
‘I have two daughters and to be honest they are all that matters to me. I just want them to be happy’.
He said Greta thought her parents were ‘huge hypocrites’ because they were active advocates for refugees, noting that his daughter would ask ‘Whose human rights are you standing up?’ given that they were not taking the climate issue seriously.
Mr Thunberg said his wife stopped flying and had to ‘change her whole career’.
He added: ‘To be honest, she didn’t do it save the climate – she did it to save her child because she saw how much it meant to her, and then, when she did that, she saw how much she grew from that, how much energy she got from it.’
He said he ‘became vegan’ and Greta ‘got more and more energy’ from this.
He added: ‘You think she’s not ordinary now because she’s special, and she’s very famous, and all these things. But to me she’s now an ordinary child – she can do all the things like other people can,’ he said.
‘She dances around, she laughs a lot, we have a lot of fun – and she’s in a very good place.’
With Greta set top turn 17, he added: ‘If she needs me there, I’ll try to do it. But I think she’ll be, more and more, going to do it by herself which is great.’
93-year-old broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough told Greta in a Skype call for the show she had ‘achieved things that many of us who have been working on the issue for 20 years have failed to do’, adding she was the ‘only reason’ climate change was among one of the main issues at this month’s general election.
Putting a presenter on a flight to Sweden to meet climate activist Greta Thunberg ‘felt awkward’, the editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has admitted.
The 16-year-old campaigner, who was a guest editor on a special edition of the show, avoids air travel because of its environmental impact.
The BBC sent presenter Mishal Husain on a return flight to Stockholm to interview her.
Programme editor Sarah Sands told the Sunday Times: ‘We did discuss that among ourselves. It felt awkward but we did not have the time for trains or boats.’
The paper said the trip to Stockholm is estimated to have amounted to almost half a ton of carbon dioxide emissions per person.
Pensions funds and other businesses risk seeing their assets become worthless unless they wake up to the climate crisis, Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned today.
Mark Carney, who will step down in March, said efforts to halt investment in fossil fuels were ‘not moving fast enough’.
He said climate change was a ‘tragedy on the horizon’ for the planet but would also have enormous costs for businesses who failed to adapt.
here is ‘no way’ all the resources held in reserve by polluting companies can be used if climate change targets were to be met, Mr Carney claimed.
As a result, he said those who did not change with the times would become ‘stranded’ with assets they could no longer use.
His comments came during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
A growing number of investment funds have supported so-called ‘divestment’ in recent years, which commits them to pull money out of companies associated with fossil fuels.
Activist group 350.org estimates that more than 1,100 funds, managing assets worth £8.4trillion, have so far pledged to do this.
However, pension funds that manage the nest eggs of tens of millions of Britons in many cases still have money invested in companies that campaigners say contribute to or benefit from the use of fossil fuels.
For example, FTSE 100 firms such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell, BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Rio Tinto and Centrica are all singled out as being ‘overvalued’ and ‘risky long-term investments’ because of their reliance on fossil fuels.