Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Speaks at UN


Jason DeCrow, AP

Greta Thunberg addressing the Climate Action Summit at the UN on Sept. 23, 2019.

Lindsey Ingrey, Co-Editor In Chief

Greta Thunberg is just sixteen, but she has risen to international fame due to her climate change activism. Thunberg is from Stockholm, Sweden and became concerned about the climate at the age of eight as she didn’t understand why adults were not acting to check global warming. She became depressed and lethargic as a result. Thunberg was later diagnosed with OCD, selective mutism, and Asperger syndrome, which she credits for her prowess as an activist, calling it her “superpower”.

She first gained attention as a ninth-grader, as she would spend her Fridays protesting climate change instead of attending school. In November 2018, Thunberg led a two-week strike outside Sweden’s Parliament that led the government to cut emissions by 15%. Last March, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

On September 20, she led a climate strike with over 4 million participants from 161 countries. Just three days later, Thunberg addressed the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York City. She admonished world leaders for their inaction on such an urgent matter. Thunberg explained that cutting global emissions in half over the next ten years only had a 50% chance of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celcius; warming beyond this point would be irreversible. “So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences,” Thunberg explained.  To have a 67% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees Celcius, the world would be able to emit 350 gigatons of carbon dioxide collectively before the 1.5-degree threshold is reached. Thunberg argued that business cannot continue as normal. Speaking to the world leaders present at the UN, Thunberg declared, “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.”