The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference will certainly not come down in history. Given the modest agreements arrived at with so much effort, along with the failure to involve the world’s main polluters, the summit held in Madrid is just a footnote of the one that took place in Paris in 2015. That one was truly important because it established global warming as one of humanity’s serious, urgent problems.
But, although COP25 will definitely not be remembered for achievements, it can at the very least claim credit for having confirmed young Greta Thunberg as standard bearer of the intergenerational and international concern for the survival of our planet. Indeed, the Swedish teenager’s simplistic maximalisms and at times cringeworthy contradictions are not to everyone’s liking. But it is also true that Thunberg, with her petite stature and cold hard stare, has been instrumental, like no other activist before her, in making the climate crisis less of an abstraction, drawing the public around a real issue that, fortunately, is already part of many political, economic, and social agendas. Spain’s fledgling coalition government has known to address the matter with a symbolic declaration of a ‘state of climate and environmental emergency.’