Youth Climate Activist Greta Thunberg to UN Climate Summit: ‘If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you’

Climate activist Greta Thunberg (c) Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin,

Greta Thunberg delivered a no-holds  barred, impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly Climate Summit, on Monday, September 23, flatly declaring, “My message is that we’ll be watching you.

“This is all wrong. 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. You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words, and yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering, dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” the 16-year old demanded as the assembly erupted in cheers and applause.

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, then come here and say you are doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still no where in sight.

“You say you hear us and understand the urgency but no matter how sad and angry I am, I don’t want to believe that, because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil and that I refuse to believe,” a statement that elicited a combination of shock, cheers and applause.

“The popular idea of cutting emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

“50% may be acceptable to you, but those numbers don’t include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. It also relies on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So 50% isn’t enough to us who have to live with the consequences,” she declared.

“How dare you pretend this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions…

“There will not be any solutions, or plans, in line with the [CO2 emissions] figures today, because these numbers too uncomfortable and you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes on all future generations are upon you.

“If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

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