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'I am part of her movement': PM's COP26 adviser Mark Carney hails Greta Thunberg

12 November 2021, 06:35 | Updated: 12 November 2021, 09:20

Mark Carney said Greta Thunberg 'absolutely has catalysed' the youth climate movement.
Mark Carney said Greta Thunberg 'absolutely has catalysed' the youth climate movement. Picture: Alamy

By James Morris

Mark Carney has hailed Greta Thunberg, telling LBC he considers himself as part of the "social movement" that the teenage climate activist started.

Mr Carney, the former Bank of England governor, has been Boris Johnson's finance adviser at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

Listen to What Next? with Lionel Barber on Global Player

Ms Thunberg, 18, has been a vocal critic of Mr Johnson, saying his climate plans amount to nothing more than "blah, blah, blah". She has also been part of COP26 protests in the Scottish city this month.

But Mr Carney, speaking to LBC's What Next? with Lionel Barber podcast, praised the "incredible" activist.

The 56-year-old said "I would say I see myself as part of the social movement", though he conceded young activists "at the vanguard of the social movement might see me as being farther behind".

Mr Carney said he gives "absolutely full credit" to Ms Thunberg "who I've had the pleasure of meeting several times and who absolutely has catalysed that movement, the youth movement".

He said that often in finance, "very obvious truths are not fully understood" and that Ms Thunberg has "done something incredibly valuable" in "hammering home" the message about the carbon budget.

"How small it was, how rapidly it was being depleted – and we've moved in a few short years, in part because of her, from a world of… broader conversations around sustainability, to a relentless focus on net zero.

"It's called the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero for a reason, because we've moved to the relentless logic of having to get emissions down, consistent with the carbon budget."

The key aim of COP26 has been to get countries to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, in order to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C. For context, previous climate change action plans would result in warming above 3C.

Mr Carney, meanwhile, praised the UK's approach to the vital climate change summit, in particular Chancellor Rishi Sunak's policy, announced last week, to force finance firms and large companies to publish next zero plans from 2023.

"When I look at the UK approach, there's much to commend [in] it.

Read more: Cities are 'doers' in tackling climate change but governments are 'delayers' - Khan

"The Chancellor stood up last week in Glasgow and said 'listen, we're going to require companies, large listed companies, to have net zero plans'. Absolutely essential to be done. Candidly, I would have expected that would take another two, three, maybe four years for that to happen in the major economies. UK leading the way.

"That will put UK companies and UK pension funds, investors [and] banks in a better position relative to others. So, it may not be perfect, but it's – from where I sit and I observe the rest of the world – pretty good."