A 16-year-old tells world leaders, ‘I don’t want you to hope, I want you to panic’

Greta Thunberg speaking at the World Economic Forum
Andrea Needham

In August 2018, at the age of 15, Swedish student Greta Thunberg went on strike from school in protest at the lack of action on climate change. Five months later, the movement she sparked has led tens of thousands of students around the world to refuse to go to school on Fridays. And Thunberg herself has become one of the most prominent voices on the climate today.

Train, not private jet

Last week, world leaders arrived in Davos, Switzerland (many by private jet) for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Thunberg, now 16, was there too – she spent 32 hours on the train, having stopped flying “for climate reasons”.

“I don’t want your hope”

In a speech to the forum, Thunberg said:

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Adults keep saying, we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day and then I want you to act.

Action around the world

Thunberg’s school strike has inspired young people around the world to take action on climate change.

In Belgium, 32,000 young people walked out of school last week:

Others are taking action in Germany:

In the USA:

In Australia:

In Ireland:

In Scotland:

And others are acting in solidarity with young people:

Meanwhile, in the UK, young people are organising events around the country for 15 February, with locations so far including London, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow and Cardiff.

The house is on fire

Thunberg finished her speech to the World Economic Forum by saying:

I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.

She’s right – the house is on fire. And most governments are not just ignoring the crisis but actively making it worse. Young people are absolutely right to go on strike to demand a liveable future. We need to stand alongside them and demand immediate and effective action on climate change.

Featured image via YouTube screenshot

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