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Video manipulated to make it look like Thunberg denied climate change

June 22, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg arguing that climate change isn’t real.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This video was manipulated. Thunberg was explaining why political leaders must make the public aware of the severity of the crisis, not disavowing climate science.

THE FACTS: Teenage climate crusader Greta Thunberg hasn’t flipped her position on climate change, but a manipulated video circulating widely on Instagram is edited to make it look that way.

In the clip, MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan asks Thunberg how she would respond if the president asked her how to address climate change. Thunberg responds that she would tell him nothing, because that wouldn’t be democratic, and she wouldn’t want an elected leader to do anything without voter support.

“So I would just tell him to tell the situation as it is,” Thunberg says. The camera appears to jump slightly, and Thunberg continues: “Since the climate crisis doesn’t exist, how can we expect people to want climate action?”

Instagram users shared the clip with captions claiming Thunberg called the climate crisis “a HOAX” and “speaks out in a different way than she used to about climate change.”

However, the edited clip cuts out a key part of the interview that reveals Thunberg’s point was to emphasize the severity of the crisis, not diminish it.

In the original March 7 interview, after explaining that she wouldn’t want an elected leader to act without voter support, Thunberg said world leaders should convey the seriousness of the crisis to their constituents.

“So, what we need now is to raise awareness and to create public opinion,” she said. “To treat the crisis like a crisis. Because if people are not aware of the crisis that we face, of course they won’t put pressure on the elected leaders. So I would just tell him to tell the situation as it is. Because, I mean yes, you could say… I meet with a lot of world leaders and they say, ‘I can’t do anything because I don’t have the support from voters.’ Well how can you expect support and pressure from voters if you are not treating the crisis like a crisis? Since the climate crisis doesn’t exist, how can we expect people to want climate action?”

In context, it’s clear Thunberg’s refrain about the climate crisis not existing was an example to make a point — that voters won’t take the climate emergency seriously if they believe it doesn’t exist.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536