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Feb 2, 2024, 1:07pm EST
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Greta Thunberg cleared of London protest charges

Insights from Semafor, The Guardian, and The Conversation

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Climate activist Greta Thunberg looks on outside Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Britain, February 2, 2024. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes
REUTERS/Isabel Infantes
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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was acquitted of a public order charge in a U.K. court Friday, with a judge deciding the evidence was “insufficient” in relation to a protest she staged at an oil and gas conference last year.

Thunberg has become the face of climate protests in recent years following the success of the weekly school walkouts she started, dubbed Fridays for Future. Recently, other organizations, including Just Stop Oil, have protested at art galleries and other institutions in hopes of ending new oil and gas contracts. This week, protesters with French organization Riposte Alimentaire threw soup on the glass covering the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, marking the second time the artwork has been targeted by climate protests.

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‘Greta effect’ motivates more people to get into climate activism

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Sources:  
The Conversation, The Guardian

People familiar with Thunberg and her politics are also more likely to engage in climate activism themselves, a 2019 study found. “Americans who report being more familiar with Greta Thunberg also feel more confident that they can help mitigate climate change as part of a collective effort,” the report’s authors noted in The Conversation. The phenomenon, dubbed “the Greta effect,” has sparked everything from copy-cat protests to a boom in children’s books about saving the planet from climate change, The Guardian reported in 2019. While just knowing who Thunberg is didn’t drive young people to be climate activists, knowing about her at least “appears to have a unique influence on the extent to which they feel empowered to make a difference,” according to the survey.

Soup-throwing protests get headlines, but no major policy changes

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Sources:  
Semafor, The Guardian

When it comes to impacting climate legislation, throwing soup doesn’t seem to be as effective as blocking highways, Semafor’s Tim McDonnell argued. The art museum protests have prompted headlines over the years, but no significant policy changes. However, farmers in France and elsewhere in the European Union were able to convince the EU to delay a new green rule by clogging city streets in recent days to protest legislation that would require them to set aside part of their farmland for conservation. “Some activists argue that the soup attacks are part of a longer-term strategy to make milder forms of climate protest more palatable and effective,” McDonnell wrote. “Personally, I remain unconvinced, and tend to think the most important form of climate messages at this stage are those that demonstrate the job-creation and cost-saving benefits of clean energy.”

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