Teenager Greta Thunberg angrily tells U.N. climate summit ‘you have stolen my dreams’ – Angry condemnation of climate inaction
Greta Thunberg opens the U.N. summit by berating world leaders for failing to take strong measures to combat climate change
(Adds quotes from Michael Bloomberg, Trump appearance, early leader pledges, Pope’s message)
By Valerie Volcovici and Matthew Green
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg on Monday opened the United Nations Climate Action Summit with an angry condemnation of world leaders for failing to take strong measures to combat climate change – “How dare you,” she said.
Days after millions of young people took to the streets worldwide to demand emergency action on climate change, leaders gathered for the annual United Nations General Assembly aiming to inject fresh momentum into stalling efforts to curb carbon emissions.
A visibly emotional Thunberg, 16, said in stern remarks at the opening of the summit that the generations that have polluted the most have burdened her and her generation with the extreme impacts of climate change.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you,” said the Swedish teenager, her voice quivering.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg said, adding that the plans that leaders will unveil will not be enough to respond to the rate of the planet’s warming.
Thunberg has galvanized a new wave of climate change activism through her weekly Fridays for Future school strikes, which she began with her weekly, solitary protests outside of the Swedish parliament.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned governments ahead of the event that they would have to offer action plans to qualify to speak at the summit, which is aimed at boosting the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat global warming.
In his opening remarks, he tried to capture the urgency of climate change and called out the fossil fuel industry.
“Nature is angry. And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature, because nature always strikes back, and around the world nature is striking back with fury,” Guterres said.
“There is a cost to everything. But the biggest cost is doing nothing. The biggest cost is subsidising a dying fossil fuel industry, building more and more coal plants, and denying what is plain as day: that we are in a deep climate hole, and to get out we must first stop digging,” he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump, a climate change denier who has undone every major U.S. regulation aimed at combating climate change, made a brief appearance in the audience of the summit along with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He did not give remarks but he listened to remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.