Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg raged at world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday, September 23.
The 16-year-old has become one of the leading voices for a generation combating the consequences of a warmer planet.
The summit was organised by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to encourage countries to contribute more to limit global warming. This was followed by a massive international youth-led climate strike on Friday, one of the largest environmental protests ever, that Thunberg organized with the youth across the globe.
“This is all wrong,” Thunberg began. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you!” Thunberg said in a room full of presidents, prime ministers, governors, and mayors.
“We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about are your fairy tales of money and eternal economic growth,” Thunberg said.
“For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear,” she added. “How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”
She accused the world leaders of having stolen her dreams and childhood with their empty promises. “You have stolen my dreams, my childhood, with your empty words,” Thunberg, the 16-year-old powerhouse activist from Sweden, said.
Greta Thunberg at #UNGA: "This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."
Via ABC pic.twitter.com/NudonxKNss
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 23, 2019
Thunberg was critical of the limited ambitions at the summit, arguing that none of the plans presented by countries is in line with the level of reduction necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Countries like Germany have proposed a reduction in reliance on coal and the deployment of more renewable energy, But Thunberg said they don’t move the needle far enough fast enough.
“With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years,” Thunberg said. “There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures today. Because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is,” she said.
“Right here, right now is where we draw the line,” concluded Thunberg. “The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Her remarks ended with a warning: “You’re failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you.
After her speech, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “I was very struck by the emotion in the room. I think they’ve identified an absolute urgency that we have to respond to here.”