What did the EU's many Presidents expect when they invited Greta Thunberg to Brussels to give a talk at the Commission? On the face of it, they were looking for some praise for their new green deal. How disappointed they were – and there must be a complex German noun which captures all this neatly: Klimagrundsatzentscheidungangst is my best shot.
In the event, Thunberg accused the EU of only pretending to fight climate change and in doing so of betraying the future of its children.
She'd been invited to address a meeting of commissioners before the unveiling of plans for a climate law that would make it a legal requirement for the EU to be carbon neutral by 2050.. But she said it didn't go far enough, saying that the plan was a betrayal of science, the 2016 Paris climate accord and seven and a half million protesting school children.
The Times quoted her:
“This climate deal is surrender because nature doesn’t bargain and you cannot make deals with physics. You can’t escape no matter how badly you want to or how hard you try and the longer you keep running away from that truth, the bigger your betrayal to your own children.”
The EU wants carbon neutrality to be measured at the super-national level to cut countries, like coal-burning Poland, some slack. This, and what are seen as its unambitious targets for 2030 are the source of the accusation of betrayal.
All very embarrassing for the EU which tells itself it's always in the vanguard of global change. Defending the plan, the hapless Ursula von Trapp, said: “It gives direction to our green growth strategy and guarantees that the transition will be gradual and fair". In all our dreams.
That's a nice line from Thunberg isn't it: "you cannot make deals with physics", although it misses the point that it's with people that governments have to make deals. Climate activists don't have to bother with such awkward detail.
Meanwhile, the Economist's Charlemagne column, riffing on Philip K Dick's Minority Report, reckons that the green deal will be killed off by the self-interest of German business. They have form, after all, in such matters.