Swedish activist Greta Thunberg didn’t mince words when she addressed world leaders at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday.
“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,” Thunberg said, her voice starting to shake as her eyes filled with tears.
The summit began Monday morning with Thunberg and other youth activists present alongside leaders from more than 60 countries. The meeting comes days after a youth-led worldwide strike largely inspired by Thunberg called for swift government action in response to climate change.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she continued. “Yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Our ecosystems are collapsing. We are the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.”
Before Thunberg and other youth leaders, including Paloma Costa of Brazil, spoke, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the session with an urgent call to world governments to commit to action on the issue of climate change, citing record warming temperatures and recent natural disasters, including wildfires.
“When we see these images, we are not just seeing damage. We are seeing the future if we do not act now,” Guterres said. “My generation has failed in its responsibility to protect our planet. That must change. The climate crisis is a race we are losing, but it’s one we must win.”
On my way to the United Nations. Today I’m speaking in the General Assembly at the Climate Action Summit. This is such a crucial day, world leaders are gathering at the UN in New York to decide on our future. The eyes of the world will be upon them. pic.twitter.com/0GSjmfqoxW— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) September 23, 2019