Feel the fear

‘I want you to panic’: Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, lays it on the line for world leaders

Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) delivers a speech during the closing day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, on January 25, 2019 in Davos, Switzerland. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

As the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting wrapped up last week, one of its most striking presentations came from one of its youngest participants — 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The Swedish teenager, who travelled 32 hours by train to the event in Davos, Switzerland, consistent with her position on reducing carbon emissions, didn’t pull any punches when her turn came to address the world’s leaders.

“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope,” Thunberg said, “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”

It wasn’t Thunberg’s only appearance at Davos. She also posted footage of herself on a panel that included  Bono, Jane Goodall and Will.i.am.

Also on the panel was Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat who spearheaded the 2015 Paris climate accord. Figueres and Thunberg co-authored a Washington Post Op-Ed last week, that urged the world leaders gathered at Davos to prioritize climate change and air pollution.

Thunberg’s message, she later told the BBC, was that “most emissions are caused by a few people, the very rich people, who are here in Davos.”

Since August, Thunberg has been sitting outside the Swedish parliament every Friday to get her climate message across, ultimately inspiring thousands of teenagers and children who have been participating in strikes, protests and rallies across Europe — as well as in Australia, the U.S. and Japan — demanding action on climate change.

“Many people say that this is not an easy issue, we cannot just say that this is how it is, it’s not black and white,” she said at Davos. “But I say that this is black and white. Either we stop the emissions or we don’t. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival.”

Watch Greta Thunberg’s powerful climate warning at Davos below:

Thunberg was also invited to speak at the UN COP24 climate talks in December, in the wake of the schools strikes. “You are not mature enough to tell it like is,” she bravely told the assembled dignitaries. “Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.”

Watch Greta Thunberg’s fearless speech before the United Nations Climate Change COP24 Conference below:


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