When Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old climate activist from Sweden, had the chance to address a global climate change conference this past week, she told officials she had not come there to beg.
Her remarks quickly gained attention on social media, and video of her speech was shared by leading climate scientists and elected officials. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted footage of her address, saying she “called out world leaders for their global inaction on climate change.”
Thunberg accused leaders of speaking only about “green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular.”
“You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake,” she said. “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is.”
The 15-year-old spoke on behalf of Climate Justice Now, a global network of climate advocacy groups. Officials from nearly 200 countries gathered in Poland over the past two weeks to “nudge the world toward stronger targets for reducing carbon emissions and enshrine a clearer set of rules for how to get there,” The Post reported this week.
Thunberg might be young, but she’s already spent years working as a climate activist.
She first attracted media attention earlier this year when she went on strike from school, holding a sign outside the Swedish parliament building in Stockholm that read, “school strike for climate.” The New Yorker reported that Thunberg spent three weeks sitting in front of parliament during school hours, and later returned to classes for four days a week while continuing to protest on Fridays.
The jury for the Children’s Climate Prize wrote that she was nominated as a finalist this year because she has “shown more determination, dedication and strength in combating climate change and working for the future of humanity than most adults or politicians ever do.”
However, on Twitter, Greta asked to be removed from the list of finalists, noting that most people would have to fly to the awards ceremony. “All finalists are to be flown in from all over the world, to be a part of a ceremony, has no connection with reality,” she wrote. “Our generation will never be able to fly (among other things), other than for emergencies. Because the adult generations have used up all our carbon budget.”
Her family uses an electric car only when absolutely necessary. Otherwise, Greta uses her bicycle, the New Yorker wrote in a profile of her. Those are sacrifices she’s willing to make.
“Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury,” she said this week. “It is the suffering of many that pay for the luxuries of few.”