Radio host Alan Jones. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Radio host Alan Jones. Picture: Darren England/AAP

Climate kids should ‘turn off their phones’

2GB host Alan Jones has ripped into the climate change marchers, saying if young people truly believe what they're saying they should "turn off their mobile phones" and walk to school.

"People are waking up," he said on his breakfast show this morning, referring to the large number of comments and pageviews on an opinion piece he penned for Tuesday's Daily Telegraph headlined, "Climate strike children could solve the crisis if they got off their electronic devices".

Jones, still reeling from an advertiser boycott over controversial comments about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, read from an email he received from a 17-year-old in England overnight in response to the piece.

"He was taking me to task for my criticism of the climate change strike," Jones said.

"He wrote, in part, 'Your generation is in denial of the chaos you've caused. Ridiculing my generation for wanting change is not OK. My generation is not the generation that started using obscene amounts of fossil fuel. My generation is not the generation that used private jets to fly places. My generation is the generation that's turning to veganism and obtaining sustainable clothes from charity shops. We're the generation striking every month just to save our planet. I'm sorry that we want to fix the problems your generation have caused'."

Jones said that would "be fine if it were true".

"Basically, the argument here is carbon dioxide is the problem. Coal-fired power emits carbon dioxide, therefore we must stop producing electricity from coal-fired power," he said.

"Well, if that's the case, and that's what the young people are about, then shouldn't they turn off their mobile phones? Shouldn't they stop charging their iPads? Shouldn't they stop watching Netflix? Because all of that is using the same coal-fired power. Shouldn't they in fact be walking to school? Shouldn't they at the end of the day say, 'Mum, you'll have to turn off the washing machine. We'll wash our clothes by hand. And you'll have to turn off the TV'."

Jones went on to quote Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author and president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre think tank, who has previously argued that "we need to solve climate change" but need to ensure "the cure isn't more painful than the disease".

"He's said this year the world will spend $230 billion subsidising renewable energy and supporting middle-class homeowners to erect solar panels," Jones said.

"In addition, the Paris Agreement on climate change will cost the world from $US1 trillion to $US2 trillion a year by 2030. (Lomborg) says, 'Astonishingly, neither of these hugely expensive policies will have any measurable impact on temperatures. Despite costing a fortune, the Paris Agreement will have no impact on climate temperatures'."

Jones noted that Jim Hansen, a former climate adviser to Al Gore, has described the notion of 100 per cent renewable energy as a "fantastical, grotesque idea" that is "tricking the public".

"As for us creating this problem to which the young man alludes, and it's my generation in denial, on a global scale humanity will be much better off including in Africa in a scenario of high fossil fuel use than it would even if we succeeded in achieving a benign low carbon dioxide world," Jones said.

"To the young man I'd say, Bjorn Lomborg says, 'Doom and gloom distorts our world view and can lead to bad policy. The future is bright, and we need smart decisions to keep it so'."

Jones' comments came as 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a fiery speech to the United Nations overnight where she slammed world leaders for inaction on the "climate crisis".

"I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean," she said, referring to her trip across the Atlantic on a "zero emissions" racing yacht.

"Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing."

Ms Thunberg added, "You say you hear us, and that you understand the urgency. I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation, and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe."