We Heart: Greta Thunberg’s Powerful Message to World Leaders on Climate Change

“This is all wrong,” 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said in a powerful speech today before the United Nations General Assembly during a climate summit. “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.”

(European Parliament / Creative Commons)

Thunberg launched last week’s #ClimateStrike movement, inspired by her own solo walkout last year after a 2018 report warned that the planet was headed toward a climate disaster. Friday’s marches saw large numbers of people around the world taking to the streets for climate justice.

But Thunberg has only just begun to speak out. She’s in the middle of year-long sabbatical from school, in which she’s taking meetings and attending conferences to push for change.

If her speech today is any indication, she won’t be holding back in her conversation into 2020. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she chided her audience. “People are suffering. People are doing. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”

Thunberg, with 15 other teens, also filed a complaint with the United Nations today against Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey—nations which make up five of the world’s leading economies—claiming that their inaction is a violation of human rights.

“We are watching you,” she warned today. “If you chose to fail us… we will never forgive you.”


Carmen Rios is a feminist media-maker and movement-builder. She's currently a Consulting Editor at Ms. and the host of Bitch Media's Popaganda podcast, and was previously the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. and the Feminism Editor, Community Director and Social Media Co-Director at Autostraddle. Her work has also been published by outlets like the Atlantic's CityLab, BuzzFeed, ElixHER, Feministing, Girlboss, Mic, MEL and Everyday Feminism; and she is additionally a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @carmenriosss.