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Scott Morrison says Greta Thunberg's fiery UN speech is giving kids 'needless anxiety' about climate change

James Hennessy
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded to Greta Thunberg's speech before the United Nations by suggesting that the climate change debate gives kids "needless anxiety".
  • Speaking to reporters in New York, Morrison asserted that the debate over how to address climate change is laden with "misinformation".
  • Australia was not invited to speak at the climate change summit due to our perceived unwillingness to cut carbon emissions.

If there's a poor stance to be taken on an issue pertaining to climate change, you can generally assume Australia is going to take it.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded to teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's impassioned plea for climate action by suggesting the climate debate is replete with "misinformation" which is giving the world's kids "needless anxiety".

Speaking to journalists in New York, Mr Morrison called for "context and perspective" on the climate debate, which one can only assume means accepting Australia's dodgy management of carbon credits as an effective means of dealing with the problem.

"You know, I want children growing up in Australia that feel positive about their future," the Prime Minister said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"And I think it's important that we give them that confidence, that they will not only have a wonderful country and pristine environment to live in, but they'll also have an economy that they can live in as well.

"So I think we've got to caution against raising the anxieties of children in our country."

Mr Morrison did not attend the UN climate summit on Monday, instead having Foreign Minister Marise Payne make a cursory appearance. Australia was disinvited from speaking at the summit, after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that only countries with concrete, workable climate action plans would be able to take the stand.

Greta Thunberg's speech, in which she castigated world leaders for their inaction on the climate problem, has dominated headlines this week.

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"I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean," she said. "Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."

Asked to comment on that sentiment, Morrison suggested the world had dealt with existential threats before and could do so again.

"Yes, we've got to deal with the policy issues and we've got to take it seriously, but I don't want our children having anxieties about these issues," he said.

"I say this as a parent, too: we've got to make sure that our kids understand the facts, but they also have the context and the perspective, and that we do not create an anxiety among children in how we talk about and deal with these very real issues."

Morrison went on to say he does not impose any particular view on his children when it comes to climate change and emission targets.

"I encourage them to have a passionate, independent view about how they see the world, but I also give them a lot of context," he said.

"I don't allow them to be basically contorted into one particular view, I like them to make their own mind.

"But I also like to give them reassurance because the worst thing I would impose on any child is needless anxiety – they've got enough things to be anxious about.

"I've always liked kids to be kids. And we've got to let kids be kids. We can't have them growing up as mushrooms either, but at the same time I think we've got to get a bit of context and perspective into this."

Morrison's appearance in New York follows a state visit with President Trump at the White House.

While the climate summit was happening, the prime minister was in Chicago admiring the latest in 'smart drive-thru' technology from McDonald's. Our national priorities are obviously right where they need to be.