"We'll be watching you," climate activist Greta Thunberg told world leaders Monday, speaking at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City.
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"We'll be watching you," climate activist Greta Thunberg told world leaders Monday, speaking at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City.
Credit: AFP/Getty Images

'This Is All Wrong,' Greta Thunberg Tells World Leaders At U.N. Climate Session

Greta Thunberg has a message for world leaders at the United Nations this week: "We'll be watching you." Speaking at the Climate Action Summit in New York, Thunberg added, "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean."

But instead, Thunberg is trying to convince politicians to take climate change seriously, and to do something to stop a global warming trend that will affect the world's children more than it affects anyone who's currently in power.

In an impassioned speech, Thunberg told those who hold office, "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."

Saying that the world is now in the early stages of a mass extinction, Thunberg criticized those who still speak of the crisis in terms of money and economic growth.

"How dare you?" she asked again, growing increasingly emotional as the audience cheered.

Citing more than 30 years' worth of scientific studies and warnings that greenhouse gases and other factors were establishing a dangerous new environmental trend, Thunberg criticized politicians for not developing solutions and strategies to confront that threat.

"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."

Thunberg then drilled into one aspect of a current international plan, which includes the goal of cutting current emissions levels in half over the next 10 years.

But that plan, she said, only provides a 50% chance of keeping the warming trend below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"Fifty percent may be acceptable to you," Thunberg said, before listing the many assumptions that underlie the estimate, and the challenges that could thwart success.

"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 to us — we who have to live with the consequences." [Copyright 2019 NPR]