They fear us, Greta!
- English version -An open letter to Greta Thunberg on the occasion of the R20 Austrian World Summit and on the question why the political leaders do not act more decisively and what we can do against them doing nothing.
Dear Greta Thunberg,
When you visited Vienna today on the occasion of the R20 climate conference and the display in the Vienna subway flashed an encouraging "Use public transport - Protect the climate" to me, I felt inspired to write you a few thoughts that have been in my head for quite some time.
Like you and many other people - the European elections have just highlighted this - I too believe that saving the climate and therefore rapidly and completely transforming our energy world is the greatest and most urgent task our society are currently facing.
With your appeals and with the "Fridays for Future" movement, launched on your inspiration, you are creating a great deal of awareness and above all you are making politicians and business leaders responsible for finally taking action. I can only support that.
And yet I am missing something in all this - and this something even seems to me to be an essential one.
We, a large part of the public, most of the commentators in the media, the many activists, we accuse the responsible people, above all the politicians, of delaying necessities and of having been inactive for far too long. But the question is, why are they doing this?
Most often the answer is: because they are bought by lobbyists. It is also sometimes said that they are too ignorant to recognise the situation, perhaps even simply too lazy. I don't think that's true. In any case, it does not hit the nail on the head.
Greta, do you know what the prevailing feeling is in the ministries of Austria, Germany, Belgium, Spain, the USA and, quite certainly, your home country, Sweden?
Is it greed? Arrogance? Is there ignorance or even bottomless stupidity?
In recent months you have been able to meet a whole series of politicians and officials. Just today the Austrian Federal President. You may disagree with me, but I don't think you often had the feeling during these encounters that you were dealing with particularly greedy or corrupt, conspicuously arrogant or stupid people, do you?
Whoever in the so-called western world has ever spent some time in a ministry - for work and not for just an interview or a press conference - will quite certainly agree with me when I notice that the prevailing feeling in the corridors of the so-called power centres is - fear!
Leaden, hands-on, all-pervading, paralyzing fear.
It ranges from team assistants to department heads, from legal trainees to ministers. It begins at the very top and is passed on to the smallest member. The fear of the press review in the morning, the fear of the next Shitstorm, the fear of the next poll, of election day. The fear of us.
It may sound unlikely, but the powerful fear us. And that's exactly why they remain inactive.
That is not an excuse, of course! But an appeal to you, Greta. You got a voice. Your messages are heard.
I would therefore ask you to add to your justified criticism, your moving appeals to politicians, a sign that gives those responsible courage. Make them a promise on our behalf: that we will not let the courageous fall!
Tell them that if you, who we elect to your posts, do what must finally be done, we will not deprive you of our favour and our vote, even if we do not like all the consequences of the necessary measures.
If, for example, you finally introduce a C02 tax, we will not vote you out, just because Spanish tomatoes will then become a little more expensive in Austria. We won't take to the streets and demonstrate when the flight to Corfu costs a bit more of the holiday money and we won't start an online petition when more plastic items are banned.
As long as we get the feeling that it is fair, we will stick by you until we have reached the goal of a climate and environmentally friendly society.
Please tell them this Greta. Tell them: be courageous!