Teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg delivered an emotional and scathing speech at the United Nations on Monday, accusing world leaders of stealing her dreams and her childhood with their inaction on climate change.
“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean,” the 16-year-old from Sweden told the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Thunberg slammed the members of the U.N. for caring more about money and “fairytales of eternal economic growth” than collapsing ecosystems, mass extinctions and people suffering due to climate change.
Thunberg said the earth’s remaining CO2 budget was rapidly dwindling — citing a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that said the planet has experienced a more than 70 gigaton deficit in the earth’s remaining CO2 budget since January 2018.
But Thunberg said leaders from the United Nations wouldn’t suggest more radical plans to reduce emissions because they are “still not mature enough to tell it like it is.”
“You are failing us but young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” Thunberg said. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”
Earlier, Thunberg tweeted that she and 15 other children from around the world had filed a legal complaint, claiming that some countries have violated an approximately 30-year-old human rights treaty. The complaint was filed against nations who have ratified the treaty and have the largest emissions, she wrote. Those nations are Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey.
On Friday, Thunberg led 150 countries in a youth-led Global Climate Strike, which saw millions taking to the streets around the world to demand action and an end to the era of fossil fuels. Thunberg marched in New York City, where she addressed thousands of strikers. “This is an emergency,” she told the crowd. “Our house is on fire.”