Just one day after Earth Day, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg traveled from her home country of Sweden to speak at the British Parliament in London on Tuesday, April 23. (And because of her strike from flying on airplanes, you better believe she took the train there.) Speaking to members of parliament (MPs), Greta bluntly discussed the threat climate change poses to the planet's future, addressed misconceptions regarding emissions, and criticized politicians for not doing what is needed to stop the climate crisis.
Her fiery speech, which was published in full by The Guardian, was full of well-crafted statements about the climate crisis that really help put things in perspective — and put pressure on politicians. Here are nine of Greta's most profound quotes from Tuesday's speech.
1. On When She'll Go Back to School
"Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future."
2. When She Expressed Her Concerns for Her Generation's Future
"I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to. People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing. Now we probably don’t even have a future any more."
3. On What She Thinks Is the Basis of Climate Change: Money
"That future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to."
4. On How We Don't Need Just to Lower Emissions, But Stop Them
"But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to 'lower' our emissions. Because that is far from enough. ... The fact that we are speaking of 'lowering' instead of 'stopping' emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual."
5. On How the Carbon Budget Should Be Just as Important as the Financial Budget
"We should no longer only ask: 'Have we got enough money to go through with this?' but also: 'Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?' That should and must become the centre of our new currency."
6. On How Future Generations Will Look Back at the Climate Crisis
"This ongoing irresponsible behavior will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind."
7. Why She Thinks Leaders Are Not Taking Enough Action
"You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time."
8. It's Time for Emergency Thinking
"Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfill something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses."
9. Why She Is So Active in the Climate Movement
"We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back."
Basically, Greta is emphasizing the urgency of the climate crisis, and the need for lawmakers to act immediately. If you want to do more to stop the climate crisis, Greta's biggest piece of advice is to do what she's been doing every Friday since August: Stand outside your local government building and demand climate action from your leaders. If you'd rather contact your local leaders by phone or email, you can click here to look up their contact information.
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