Greta Thunberg’s Quest For Climate Justice

A 16-Year-Old’s Message, Told Across the World

By: Lobna Abdllatif

Thunberg spoke to world leaders at the United Nations 2019 Climate Action Summit. Credit: NBC News

When asked about her message to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, Greta Thunberg responds, “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 and my childhood with your empty words and yet I’m one of the lucky ones. 

People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away! And come here saying that you are doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight. 

You say you “hear us” and that you understand the urgency but no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not 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.

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

50 percent may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution, or the aspects of equity and climate justice. 

They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So, a 50 percent risk is simply not acceptable to us, we who have to live with the consequences. 

To have a 67 percent chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise, the best odds given by the IPCC, the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on January 1st, 2018. 

Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons. How dare you pretend that this can be sold with just business as usual and some technical solutions. With today’s emissions levels that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than eight and a half years.

There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today because these numbers are too uncomfortable, and you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. 

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you and if you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you. 

We will not let you get away with this right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up and change is coming whether you like it or not. Thank you.”

   16-year-old climate activist Thunberg addressed world leaders last September. Her speech was sympathetic and backed by science. She raised awareness of the state of the world and spoke of a brighter future. 

Thunberg appeals to a massive population because of her straightforward speeches. She does not like small talk and has refused to meet with heads of state. 

She uses discernment in her speeches and children as young as 11 years old have cut school to join the cause. 

She has experienced massive hatred from world leaders but continues to speak out against oppression. She has visited Canada, the U.S, and the U.K. for climate rallies and her parents are activists who support her efforts. 

According to Thunberg’s address to the Montreal climate change rally, 4 million people attended the global strike in over 170 countries worldwide.

  Her supporters see her on a mission while her critics underestimate her. Skeptics say her speech was apocalyptic, uncomfortable, too emotional, and annoying. 

Her supporters say she was humble, smart, and angry. It is as if we are in a burning building and instead of finding a way-out our leaders are ignoring the issue entirely. 


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