Priorities

‘Wake up and take action,’ urges teen activist Greta Thunberg

‘Wake up and take action,’ urges teen activist Greta Thunberg

by Shruthi Venkatesh April 22 2019, 4:04 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 57 secs

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate change activist has told members of the European Parliament to forget Brexit and focus on climate change. Thunberg said in a speech during the European Parliament elections in May, that if politicians were serious about tackling climate change they would not spend all their time “talking about Brexit”.

The 16-year-old had inspired thousands of school children to take action on climate change. Making the speech short, she said that the politicians were failing to take enough action on climate change and the threats to the natural world.

“Our house is falling apart and our leaders need to start acting accordingly because at the moment they are not,” said Thunberg in a standing room-only meeting of MEPs and EU officials in Strasbourg in France. She highlighted the issues that the planet was facing and asked officials to perform better.

“If our house was falling apart our leaders wouldn’t go on like we do today,” she said. “If our house was falling apart, you wouldn’t hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and the environment.”

The Guardian reports that climate change was often discussed at the EU’s regular summits, but the issue was dominated by Brexit, migration or the euro zone crisis that have monopolised the attention of Europe’s top leaders.

Greta, after her 10-minute speech ended, everyone stood up and gave her a 30-second standing ovation - a sign the MEPs were impressed with her powerful speech.

As the young climate activist spoke of a “sixth mass extinction”, her voice faltered. “The extinction rate is up to 10,000 times faster than what is considered normal, with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day,” she said. “Erosion of fertile topsoil, deforestation of the rainforest, toxic air pollution, loss of insects and wildlife, acidification of our oceans – these are all disastrous trends.” She was applauded after getting to the end of the passage and continued the speech without faltering again.

Greta had previously addressed the UN climate change summit in Poland and the World Economic Forum in Davos since her lone protest outside the Swedish parliament last August triggered a worldwide school strike movement to raise the alarm about climate change. Neither was it the first time Greta had taken her uncompromising message to the EU institutions. In February, she told an audience including the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU needed to double the ambition of its climate targets.

Noting the upcoming European elections and the fact that her generation could not vote, Greta urged MEPs to listen to scientists and millions of children who had taken part in school strikes. “In this election, you vote for the future living conditions of humankind,” she said.

Also, marking the fire accident at Notre Dame in Paris in her speech, Greta called for “cathedral thinking” to tackle climate change. “It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling,” she said. “In other words it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible.



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