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Image of placcard with picture of Greta Thunberg's face, words "Greta for President" and image of the world with words "there is no Planet B"

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg made headlines across the globe with an impassioned and emboldened speech attacking world leaders at the opening of the United Nations Climate Action Summit at the UN Headquarters in New York City this week.

Ms Thunberg is a sixteen-year-old Swedish activist, one of the youngest and most contentious nominees for a Nobel Peace Prize in history, and self identifies as a person with Asperger’s. Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer a clinical diagnosis and as of 2013, now falls within the range of wider Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Ms Thunberg founded the Youth Strike for Climate movement, which culminated in a worldwide, youth-led climate strike with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets in cities around the world last week, on Saturday the 21st September, the International Day of Peace.

Ms Thunberg was unapologetic in communicating her frustrations and anger with world leaders. She has received much criticism both in the press and online for her comments, as well as for her age, difference and gender, including a sarcastic and mocking tweet from the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

However, Greta has received an equally vocal swell of support from other climate change activists, big businesses, disability advocates and the general public and has no qualms with defending herself, her beliefs and her disability.

“Given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower”- Greta Thunberg

Last month, she tweeted in response to personal criticisms, including mockery of her looks and differences, using the hashtag #aspiepower and clearly demonstrating her strength and resilience as an individual, an activist and as a person with disability.

In response to further attacks and backlash from the press, leaders such as Trump and online, Thunberg has again made a statement on Twitter addressing her "haters". 

You can watch Greta’s address to world leaders at the opening of the UN Climate Action Summit via UN Web TV, or read the transcript provided below:

Watch now:




My message is that we'll be watching you.

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!

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. 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!

For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50 per cent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

Fifty per cent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your carbon dioxide out of the air with technologies that barely exist.

So a 50 per cent simply not acceptable to us – we who have to live with the consequences. To have a 67 per cent chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left to emit back on January 1, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes.

How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just 'business as usual' and some technical solutions? With today's emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8½ years.

There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.

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