Few climate speeches or events bring me to tears these days, but Greta Thunberg’s speech before the United Nations Monday did.
The 16-year-old is the face behind Fridays for Future, a youth movement around the world where students strike from school every Friday to protest climate inaction from their governments. The group helped turn out an estimated 4 million protesters last Friday, and that energy manifested Monday in the form of a landmark lawsuit where 16 young people representing different countries are suing the world’s five major carbon polluters. Why? Climate change is infringing on their human rights.
Thunberg addressed the UN right before dropping the suit, and her speech was one of the most powerful ones the teen activist has given to date. The Swedish badass is usually quite poised before an audience and has given fiery addresses at other gatherings like Davos and last year’s global climate conference in Poland, but it seems like the emotional weight of the climate crisis is catching up to her.
“People are suffering,” Thunberg said at the UN Climate Action Summit, tears swelling in her eyes. “People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about are fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Fighting for the future of humanity is no easy feat, especially when your generation is the one that will truly face the wrath of climate change if world leaders continue with business as usual. It’s not our responsibility to bear, and yet here we young people are, cleaning up the mess of generations before us.
As a Young Person myself, I feel Greta’s rage and sadness. And any person who hears her words should, too.