Fifteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the COP24 UN plenary assembly, on Dec 12 in Katowice, Poland. She castigated world leaders for their lack of concerted action to address Climate Change.
Take a listen as she distills the climate change crisis into a few short powerful sentences and calls it a crisis of world leadership.
Here is an annotated version -
Here is the transcript (emphasis mine) from www.democracynow.org/… -
My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old, and I’m from Sweden. I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now!
Many people say that Sweden is just a small country, and it doesn’t matter what we do. But I’ve learned that you are never too small to make a difference. And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to.
But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. You only speak of 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. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.
But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.
The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.
Until you start focusing on what needs to be done, rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself.
We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses, and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people. Thank you.
There was another similar speech by Greta to UN secretary general António Guterres; see medium.com/… for the video and transcript.
She is adept at using social media to spread her message around the world -
And she is, as we have seen already, a gifted speaker -
Greta Thunberg (born 3 January 2003) is a Swedish climate activist. She is known for protesting outside the Swedish parliament building to raise climate change activism.
On 20 August 2018, Thunberg, then in 9th grade, decided to not attend school until the 2018 Sweden general election on 9 September after heat waves and wildfires in Sweden. Her demands were that the Sweden government reduce carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement, and she protested via sitting outside the Riksdag every day during school hours with the sign "Skolstrejk för klimatet" (school strike for the climate). After the general elections, she continued to strike only on Fridays. The strike is now in its 17th week. More info at en.wikipedia.org/…
The strikes have gained worldwide attention. Similar protests have been organized in other countries, including Holland, Germany, Finland, Denmark and Australia.
And she did not miss her strike this week -
Her influence has spread far and wide -
In August 2018, Greta wrote in medium.com/… castigating the Swedish establishment itself -
The other day I watched a debate between party leaders on TV and saw how they were allowed to stand there and lie. They said it made no sense to make an effort to curb Sweden’s emissions, since we were such a “role model”. That we should focus on “helping” other countries to cut their emissions.
Sweden is not a role model. The people of Sweden yearly emits 11 tonnes of CO2 per capita. We’re on eighth place in the world according to WWF.
We’re the ones who need help.
I don’t understand how they can be allowed to lie like that on TV.
Thunberg’s parents are Svante Thunberg, an actor, and Malena Ernman, a very well-known opera singer. Her father’s ancestry includes Svante Arrhenius, who won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for calculating the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
From www.newyorker.com/... -
Ernman has published a book in which she described her family’s struggle with her two daughters’ special needs: both Greta and her younger sister, Beata, have been diagnosed with autism, A.D.H.D., and other conditions. In part because of her mother’s fame and the publicity that surrounded the publication of her book, Greta’s protest serves a dual purpose. It not only calls attention to climate policy, as she intended, but it also showcases the political potential of neurological difference. “I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,” she explained to me, in English. “I have a special interest. It’s very common that people on the autism spectrum have a special interest.”
Thunberg developed her special interest in climate change when she was nine years old and in the third grade. “They were always talking about how we should turn off lights, save water, not throw out food,” she told me. “I asked why and they explained about climate change. And I thought this was very strange. If humans could really change the climate, everyone would be talking about it and people wouldn’t be talking about anything else. But this wasn’t happening.”
Turnberg has an uncanny ability to concentrate, which she also attributes to her autism. “I can do the same thing for hours,” she said. Or, as it turns out, for years. She began researching climate change and has stayed on the topic for six years. She has stopped eating meat and buying anything that is not absolutely necessary. In 2015, she stopped flying on airplanes, and a year later, her mother followed suit, giving up an international performing career. The family has installed solar batteries and has started growing their own vegetables on an allotment outside the city.
Do read the rest of the New Yorker article to learn about Greta’s background, her climate activism and her inspirational struggles with the Swedish government.
There were hints of some positive agreements from COP24 and some declarations of concrete plans going forward. Not sure whether there were any real actionable agreements, given the intransigence of the United States and a few other countries. Perhaps other kossacks can shed some light on the outcome of the conference.
Greta is making quite a splash in Sweden and international circles with her clear eyed writings and speeches on the climate change crisis. Let’s spread her inspiration to everyone we know.
- Greta Thunberg wiki page — en.wikipedia.org/…
- Greta Thunberg speech to UN secretary general António Guterres — medium.com/...
- The Fifteen-Year-Old Climate Activist Who Is Demanding a New Kind of Politics — www.newyorker.com/…
- Greta Thunberg: “Sweden is not a Role Model” — medium.com/…
- Greta Thunberg: “I'm striking from school to protest inaction on climate change – you should too” — www.theguardian.com/...