Greta Thunberg’s speech on generational injustice shone a spotlight on an emerging political faultline
If the scale of the challenge to governments around the world was not clear last Friday, when around 4 million people joined a school strike, the speech given at the UN on Monday by the movement’s founder, Greta Thunberg, can have left them in no doubt: “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. If you choose to fail us, we will never forgive you,” said the teenager, who has never before spoken publicly with such visible upset and bitterness.
The idea of climate justice has been around for at least two decades. Initially it was used to describe an approach that placed inequalities between countries at the front and centre of climate negotiations. At its simplest, it means that cutting carbon emissions can’t be done without regard to fairness, and thus that the burden of change should fall differently on rich and poor.