After a year spent protesting on the streets, it was Greta Thunberg’s moment on the world stage, and she did not disappoint, accusing leaders of betrayal and repeatedly demanding, “how dare you?” in a raw, emotional speech.
Since landing on US shores on a sailboat in August, the Swedish teen has spoken only briefly at public events, preferring to pass the MIC to lesser-known activists so that more voices are heard.
Not so at Monday’s climate action summit, convened by UN Chief Antonio Guterres to reinvigorate the Paris agreement, where Thunberg was determined to make the most of the allotted time.
Shifting gears for a moment from powerful rhetoric to wonkishness, she reeled off a litany of damning facts and statistics to build up her argument.
She said the popular goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 only gave the planet a 50% chance of avoiding a long-term temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius, vital to avert catastrophe, and that “a 50%risk is simply not acceptable to us.”
The speech lit up twitter and the truth of Thunberg’s words was borne out by the lack of major commitments that followed by the world’s biggest emitters, despite much pre-summit hype.
Thunberg has become the global face of a growing youth movement against climate inaction that mobilized millions in a worldwide strike on Friday.
Her struggle began quietly in August 2018 when she skipped school for the first three weeks, and then on Fridays to spend the day outside Sweden’s parliament with a sign labelled “school strike for climate”.
In August, she crossed the atlantic in a two-week journey on a sailboat to attend the climate summit in New York. She refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions caused by planes.