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  • What Did Greta Thunberg Say at the UN Summit?

What Did Greta Thunberg Say at the UN Summit?

Oct 05 2019 Read 649 Times

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg delivered a stark rebuke to politicians and leaders from all across the globe at the UN Summit last week. The 14-year-old environmentalist from Sweden gave her scathing speech at the annual general assembly on Monday 23rd September 2019, just days after millions of young people all across the world organised a mass protest against inaction on climate change from those in charge.

Visibly emotional during her speech, Thunberg warned world leaders that failure to act now would mean the next generation would never forgive those who had forsaken future ones. While the politicians in attendance seemed to largely agree with her sentiments and looked sheepishly on as Thunberg thundered away, tangible reforms and concrete deadlines were conspicuous by their absence – as were certain world leaders.

Strong words

Right from the get-go, Thunberg did not pull any punches with regard to the content of her discourse, calling out those who had paid lip service to the idea of tackling climate change but had yet to put forward concrete measures to back up their words. She also predicted that this year’s summit would not hold much in the way of improvement on the theme, a prophecy that appeared to be proven true when it came time for the adults to speak.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she seethed, visibly straining to hold back tears. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.”

Empty rhetoric

Despite the force of her speech, it unfortunately did not seem to have much in the way of the desired effect. One of the world’s biggest polluters, India, has shown some promise in recent years through events like the Conference and Exhibition for Emissions Monitoring in India 2019, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not offer a date for his country’s phase-out of coal, which had been identified as a key goal by UN Secretary General António Gutierres prior to the summit.

Another major polluter in the shape of China failed to suggest any fresh incentives or initiatives for reducing its emissions, while Germany’s Angela Merkel did announce her country would eliminate coal mining completely – but only by 2038, which is deemed too late by many environmentalists and experts on the subject. Elsewhere, the leaders of the USA, Brazil, Canada and Australia were not even in attendance to hear Thunberg’s words.

Grave consequences

The fear is that tepid efforts by governments to curb their emissions could comprise far too little, far too late. A recent analysis commissioned by the UN found that current efforts would see global temperatures rise by as much as 3.4°C, and if the universally agreed target of limiting global warming to just 2°C is to be met, those efforts must be at least tripled and perhaps even increased fivefold.

Carbon is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, but another major problem is the concentrations of methane in our atmosphere. This gas can be up to 30 times more effective in trapping heating than CO2, making it a huge concern. It’s largely produced from agricultural activities, including fertilisation of crops and rearing of livestock.

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