"If you choose to fail us, we will never forgive you"
Everyone is talking about the impassioned speech that 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s made at the UN Climate Change summit yesterday, as she made a heartfelt plea for world leaders to take more action towards cutting down emissions. Here is her incredible speech in full.
“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 and my childhood with your empty words. 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 fairy tales 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 and say you are doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are nowhere in sight? You say that 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.
“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5°C and risks setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. 50% may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution, and all 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% risk is simply not acceptable for us, we who have to live with the consequences.
“To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5°C global temperature rise (the best odds given by the IPCC), the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 to emit back on January 1st 2018. Today that figure has already down to less than 350 gigatons. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business as usual and some technical solutions? With today’s emission levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight-and-a0-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.”