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Build a climate wall! Greta Thunberg: ‘The UN predicts that by the year 2050 there will be up to 1 billion climate refugees in the world’

The time in New York has been surreal. If the media attention was big in Europe, it’s nothing compared to how it is here. A year ago the thought of seeing pictures of my dog inside the UN would have been unthinkable. Now it’s nothing strange at all. I see myself everywhere. Just the night before one of my speeches had been projected onto the facade of the UN building. But luckily I completely lack an interest in such things. If you would care about this kind of attention, then you’d probably develop a self-image that is far from sane.

It’s very hard to move inside the giant labyrinth of this building. Presidents, prime ministers, kings, and princesses, all come up to me to chat. People recognize me and suddenly see their opportunity to get a selfie which later they can post on their Instagram – with the caption #savetheplanet. Perhaps it makes them forget the shame of their generation letting all future generations down. I guess maybe it helps them to sleep at night.

In the greenroom, sitting with the other speakers, I try to read through my speech, but I constantly get interrupted by people who want to do small talk and take selfies. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres steps in. We chat for a bit, just like I’ve learnt that you’re supposed to do. I fill up my red water bottle and sit down again. Then it’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s turn to come up, congratulate, take a picture and ask whether it’s ok for her to post it on social media. A queue starts forming. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, waits in line but doesn’t quite make it before it’s time for the event to start.

The annual UN General Assembly week in New York City is always a big global event, but this year it was a bit extra special since the secretary general had decided that the focus would be exclusively on the climate. The expectations are huge. It has been promoted as a ‘now-or-never’ moment.

Almost all of the world’s leaders are sitting in the audience, but it’s only those with specific so-called “solutions” who have received an invitation to address the General Assembly.