With the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit coming to Glasgow later this year, all of us should probably be thinking more about the climate crisis and the role Scotland has to play in fighting it.
This week I bought a new cheese slicer. I ordered it on Monday morning and it duly arrived later that same evening. A delivery truck came to the house just for me, with a shiny new kitchen implement so I can cut nice even slices of cheddar.
No wonder the planet is doomed.
I half expect Greta Thunberg to show up at the front door soon to lecture me about the hubris of it all: me and my cheese slicer, ordered from Amazon with it’s horribly wasteful business practices – and don’t get her started on all that Amazon packaging which is just so extra and (usually) unnecessary.
Ms Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist who launched the Fridays for Future movement in 2018 by quietly protesting outside her country’s parliament to highlight inaction on the climate crisis, is certainly in the mood to give a lecture or two at the moment.
Last weekend she addressed a captive audience of world leaders at a summit in Austria. In attendance, among the great and the good, were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary General António Guterres.
And up there on a giant video wall, just next to Ms Thunberg, was Scotland’s own First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who had to listen patiently while the 18-year old Swede dished out some blunt home truths about tackling the global climate emergency.
If the summit organisers thought they might be getting a few words of encouragement from Greta they were in for a rude awakening.
"Let’s be clear — what you are doing is not about climate action or responding to an emergency. It never was. This is communication tactics disguised as politics."
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) July 2, 2021
Ms Thunberg said that leaders had only started to act when public pressure began to grow.
“Not act as in taking climate action, but acting as in role playing, playing politics, playing with words and playing with our future. Pretending to take responsibility. Acting as saviours as you try to convince us things are being taken care of.”
I wondered if Ms Sturgeon imagined Greta might be speaking directly to her?
After all, Scotland has a great track record on setting ambitious climate change targets, but not such a great track record on meeting them.
A recent report highlighted how the Scottish Government had missed their own greenhouse gas emissions targets for the third year in a row.
That’s more than a little embarrassing for the host nation of a major UN climate summit.
Inspiring a generation of activists
Whatever you think about Greta Thunberg – and she certainly seems to trigger a certain type of white middle aged men, and ruddy-faced American ex-presidents alike – she has done something remarkable.
She’s galvanised a generation of young passionate activists with a simple message of holding political leaders to account and speaking truth to power.
On the Fridays for Future website you can see all the climate strike protests around the world. There’s a lot in northern Europe especially but Scotland is lacking in regular protest action.
Maybe that will change as COP26 comes closer?
Sadly though, Greta Thunberg won’t be coming to Glasgow in November to deliver any messages to the Scottish Government about their climate change failings. She’s already said she won’t attend the summit and thinks it should be postponed.
Which is rather a shame, because she could certainly put a rocket up the leaders and turn COP26 – which has the potential to be a lot of talk and not a lot of action – into a really meaningful event.
Instead, I can pay my own tribute to Ms Thunberg and celebrate her activism with a trip to Ikea for some modular furniture and a plate of meatballs. Or perhaps just a sandwich with rye bread and creamy Västerbotten cheese.
I’ve got a shiny kitchen gadget to cut the perfect slice.