Doing what she's come to be known to do, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg held no punches when speaking on the responsibility that rests in the hands of the world's politicians to combat climate change. On Monday, Greta Thunberg delivered a powerful speech that pointed out who is impacted most by politicians' failure to make real changes: children and future generations.
The Swedish teen activist spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday in New York City — an event held on the first day of the UN's General Assembly during which world leaders present their plans to reduce their countries' carbon footprints, according to CNN, and had some powerful words for the world leaders in the audience.
"We'll be watching you," she said, according to AXIOS. "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean."
Thunberg has made a name for herself as an outspoken proponent for climate change science, and her time at the UN summit was no exception. After a harrowing voyage across the Atlantic in a carbon emission free yacht, Thunberg has been busy calling out the powers that be for not doing enough to curtail climate change. She joined a protest outside of the White House earlier this month before moving her message to an even larger stage at the UN summit.
In her speech on Monday, Thunberg addressed those in office and launched into a criticism that leaves little room for debate. According to Reuters, she said:
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.
Thunberg went on to explain that the world is already in the early stages of a mass extinction, pointing to more than three decades of climate research that warns of the dangerous trend of global warming and greenhouse gas accumulation, as the BBC reported. Given the overwhelming evidence of imminent danger, it's hard to blame her for criticizing politicians over their inaction.
"You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency," she said. "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."
Taking the fight a step further, Thunberg and 15 other children filed a complaint with the UN on Monday accusing five of the world's leading economies of violating their human rights by not putting in place policies "to prevent the deadly and foreseeable consequences" of climate change on a global scale, according to CNN. The youths named five countries on their petition — Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey — and asked them to adjust their climate goals immediately and work with other nations to address the crisis in lieu of monetary compensation in the case.
If the world leaders in attendance at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit take one thing away from the discussions this week, it will surely be that the younger generations aren't going to stand idly by while their world quite literally burns.