Greta Thunberg says Swedish politicians ignoring climate crisis as election nears

"We have been completely been focusing on other things."

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STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s politicians are ignoring the climate crisis in the run-up to the election on Sept. 11 and treating it as if it were just a problem rather than a life-or-death threat, activist Greta Thunberg said.

The war in Ukraine and the ongoing energy crisis, which has seen power prices soar, are dominating the headlines with just a week to go before the vote while welfare, schools and gang crime also head the list of voter concerns.

Thunberg, whose Friday protests outside Sweden’s parliament years ago turned into a global youth movement demanding action on climate change, said the issue had been “pretty much non-existent,” during the campaign.

“We have been completely been focusing on other things,” she told Reuters.

She said politicians and the media had “chosen not to communicate that so many of the crises that we are experiencing now are very closely interlinked.”

“Therefore, people of course only focus on things that are right ahead of them instead of actually focusing on the larger holistic picture,” she said.

She said politicians were treating the climate as a distant problem.

“Just take Pakistan now, as an example, a very clear example,” she said.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountains have brought floods that have affected 33 million people and killed at least 1,290, including 453 children.

“We focus on the climate when we have time to spare, it feels like,” Thunberg said. “It’s something that — yes, it’s a problem and not an existential emergency that affects all other issues as it should be.”

Reporting by Ilze Filks, writing by Simon Johnson.