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World in denial on climate action five years after Paris accord, says Thunberg

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Five years on from the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world remains in denial over the actions needed to prevent catastrophic warming, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg said on Friday.

The deal was adopted on Dec. 12, 2015 by 196 countries but, so far, global leaders have failed to deliver on its promises, she said in a video that urged her 10.5 million Instagram followers to #FightFor1point5.

That was a reference to the ambition set out in the accord to hold the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The video showed images of politicians and bureaucrats hugging and cheering when the Paris Agreement was signed.

Yet the five years subsequent years have been the hottest years ever recorded, Thunberg said in the video, which mixed her sober address to camera with dystopian images of fire and flooding.

Pledges so far to reduce greenhouse gas emissions put the world on track for a dire 3C or more of warming this century, with countries planning to produce double the amount of fossil fuels needed to hit the 1.5C target in the next decade alone, the United Nations and research groups said last week.

“Hypothetical targets are being set and big speeches are being given, yet when it comes to the immediate action we need, we are still in state of complete denial,” Thunberg said.

“We are still speeding in the wrong direction.”

Now 17, Thunberg rose to fame in 2018 when her school strike for climate change campaign became a viral sensation online, turning her lone protest into a global movement. Since then she has become a thorn in the side of the world’s political elite.

She ended Friday’s video on an optimistic note, saying the solution was in making people - rather than simply policymakers - aware of the extent of the climate crisis.

“Let’s make this our main priority. Let’s unite and spread awareness... We are the hope. We the people.”

Reporting by Colm Fulton; editing by John Stonestreet

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