Greta Thunberg (born 3 January 2003) is a Swedish climate activist. In August 2018, she initiated the School strike for climate movement and in early-December the same year she spoke at the United Nations Climate Change conference to denounce world leaders for their inaction.
- 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 fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
- If world leaders choose to fail us, my generation will never forgive them (23 September 2019), from speech delivered at the UN Climate Action Summit.
- I want people to unite behind the science... And that is what we have to realize, that that is what we have to do right now.. I’m not the one who’s saying these things. I’m not the one who we should be listening to. And I say that all the time. I say we need to listen to the scientists.
- We have lots of unions who are planning to strike, so, I mean, adults striking from their work. And that is so incredibly important to show that this is such an — this is not just for children or teenagers. This is for everyone. And what we are doing, we are not, of course — I mean, we are striking to disrupt the system...
- We are facing an existential crisis... it will have a massive impact on our lives in the future, but also now, especially in vulnerable communities. And I think that we should wake up, and we should also try to wake the adults up, because they are the ones who — their generation is the ones who are mostly responsible for this crisis, and we need to hold them accountable.
- I have Asperger's syndrome and that means I'm sometimes a bit different from the norm. And - given the right circumstances - being different is a superpower. It makes you think differently. And especially in such a big crisis like this one we need to think outside the box. We need to think outside our current system, that we need people that think outside the box and who aren't like everyone else.
Guardian interview (August 2019)Edit
- It’s insane that a 16-year-old has to cross the Atlantic in order to take a stand, but that’s how it is. It feels like we are at a breaking point. Leaders know that more eyes on them, much more pressure is on them, that they have to do something, they have to come up with some sort of solution. I want a concrete plan, not just nice words.”
- Greta Thunberg 'wants a concrete plan, not just nice words' to fight climate crisis (The Guardian 29 Aug 2019)
- That happens all the time. That’s basically all I hear. The most common criticism I get is that I’m being manipulated and you shouldn’t use children in political ways, because that is abuse, and I can’t think for myself and so on. And I think that is so annoying! I’m also allowed to have a say – why shouldn’t I be able to form my own opinion and try to change people’s minds?
But I’m sure you hear that a lot, too; that you’re too young and too inexperienced. When I see all the hate you receive for that, I honestly can’t believe how you manage to stay so strong.
- Quoted in When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met Greta Thunberg: 'Hope is contagious', The Guardian, Emma Brockes (29 June 2019)
- Many people, especially in the US, see countries like Sweden or Norway or Finland as role models – we have such a clean energy sector, and so on. That may be true, but we are not role models. Sweden is one of the top 10 countries in the world when it comes to the highest ecological footprints, according to the WWF – if you count the consumer index, then we are among the worst per capita.
In Sweden, the most common argument that we shouldn’t act is that we are such a small country with only 10 million inhabitants – we should focus more on helping other countries. That is so incredibly frustrating, because why should we argue about who or what needs to change first? Why not take the leading role?
- Quoted in When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met Greta Thunberg: 'Hope is contagious', The Guardian, Emma Brockes (29 June 2019)
February - March 2019Edit
- For way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything to fight the climate crisis, but we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer. We are striking because we have done our homework and they have not.
- I often talk to people who say, ‘No, we have to be hopeful and to inspire each other, and we can’t tell [people] too many negative things’ . . . But, no — we have to tell it like it is. Because if there are no positive things to tell, then what should we do, should we spread false hope? We can’t do that, we have to tell the truth.
- Quoted in Greta Thunberg: ‘All my life I’ve been the invisible girl,' Leslie HookFinancial Times (22 February 2019)
- This target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today. If the EU is to make its fair contribution to stay within the carbon budget for the 2C limit then it needs a minimum of 80 percent reduction by 2030, and that includes aviation and shipping... There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge.
- Unite behind the science, that is our demand. (Thunberg told a plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
"You did not act in time" (April 2019)Edit
- Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.
- You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.
- You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time.
- "You did not act in time": Greta Thunberg's full speech to UK MPs (23 April 2019)
- Cited in No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, Penguin Books, 2019, pages 58 and 67 (ISBN 9780141991740).
European Economic and Social Committee (February 2019)Edit
- We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change, because if we fail to do so than all our achievements and progress have been for nothing and all that will remain of our political leaders’ legacy will be the greatest failure of human history. And they will be remembered as the greatest villains of all time, because they have chosen not to listen and not to act.
- We have been told that the EU intends to improve its emission reduction targets. In the new target, the EU is proposing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent below 1990’s level by 2030. Some people say that is good or that is ambitious. But this new target is still not enough to keep global warming below 1.5 °C. This target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today. If the EU is to make its fair contribution to staying within the carbon budget for the 2 °C limit, then it means a minimum of 80 percent reduction by 2030 and that includes aviation and shipping. So it is around twice as ambitious as the current proposal.
World Economic Forum (January 2019)Edit
- Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire. [...] 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. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.
- Greta Thunberg, 16, urges leaders to act on climate, The Guardian (25 January 2019)
- Cited in No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, Penguin Books, 2019, pages 19-24 (ISBN 9780141991740).
- Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie. Because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame. Some people – some companies and some decision-makers in particular – have known exactly what priceless values they are sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money.
- Teen activist tells Davos elite they're to blame for climate crisis, CNN (25 January 2019)
- Cited in No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, Penguin Books, 2019, pages 17-18 (ISBN 9780141991740).
- I think it is insane that people are gathered here to talk about the climate and they arrive here in private jets.
- Time to 'get angry', teen climate activist says in Davos, World Economic Forum, Davos (January 2019)...
- There are no emergency meetings, no headlines, no breaking news. No one is acting as if we were in a crisis. Even most climate scientists or green politicians keep on flying around the world, eating meat and dairy. … Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can't save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.
- "School strike for climate - save the world by changing the rules", TEDxStockholm (24 November 2018)
"You are stealing our future" (December 2018)Edit
- You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess. Even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to your children.
- We are about to sacrifice our civilization for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue to make enormous amounts of money. [...] But it is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few. [...] You say that you love your children above everything else. And yet you are stealing their future.
- We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. [...] And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself?
- We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. You've run out of excuses and we're running out of time. We've come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.
- You Are Stealing Our Future: Greta Thunberg, 15, Condemns the World’s Inaction on Climate Change, Democracy Now! (13 December 2018)
- Cited in No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, Penguin Books, 2019, pages 14-16 (ISBN 9780141991740).
"School Strike for Climate" (December 2018)Edit
- For 25 years, countless of people have stood in front of the United Nations Climate Change conference asking our nations’ leaders to stop the emissions. But clearly this has not worked, since the emissions just continue to rise. So I will not ask them anything. Instead, I will ask the people around the world to realize that our political leaders have failed us, because we are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness.
"Almost Everything is Black and White" (October 2018)Edit
- [...] why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more, when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts within the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of that same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society?
- Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day. [...] There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can't save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.
Quotes about ThunbergEdit
- Greta Thunberg is one of the great truth-tellers of this or any time. Let me refresh your memories about some of her most iconic lines. To the U.N. climate negotiators in Poland last December, she said: “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.”
- To the British MPs who asked her to speak, she asked, “Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.”
- To the rich and mighty at Davos who praised her for giving them hope, she replied, “I don’t want your hope. … I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
- She also told them that not everyone is to blame for the climate crisis. No, she looked them in the eye and said that they were to blame. And we will always love her for that.
- Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who started the Friday school strikes, has graduated from secondary education with 14 As and three Bs. She got these excellent grades despite being absent from class far more than most of her followers: As the leader of a movement, an international celebrity, and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, she traveled extensively during her last school year.
- The contrast between Thunberg’s academic achievement and her attendance record raises important questions. What kind of example does she set for the millions of kids who skipped school to participate in the climate protests? Should attendance be compulsory and, if so, why should it be required for someone like Thunberg? In Sweden, nine years of full-time education are mandatory and home-schooling is practically illegal...
- What if Thunberg is offering policy makers two messages for the price of one? The first is, of course, about climate. But the second is that the world wouldn’t come to an end if the school week were shortened by a day. Going to a rally and reading up about the issues involved might do more good than polishing a chair in class... Homeschooling isn’t the answer... For her part, Thunberg is done wasting her time, at least for now. She is taking the next school year off to continue her climate change campaign. Whatever school she ends up in next is unlikely to make stringent attendance demands on a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner.
- Greta is built in a laboratory! She has the proper face, the proper pigtails, the proper illness, she is properly little... She and all her family settled down forever, but it is evident that they are used. After two days she shook hands with miss Christine Lagarde, who leads the IMF. She is pure laboratory creation.
- In recent days, she has sharply rejected criticism of the strikes from educational authorities, telling the Hong Kong Education Bureau: “We fight for our future. It doesn’t help if we have to fight the adults too.” She also told a critical Australian state education minister his words “belong in a museum”.
- The students striking from schools around the world to demand action on climate change have issued an uncompromising open letter stating: “We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not.” The letter, published by the Guardian, says: “United we will rise on 15 March and many times after until we see climate justice... Thunberg, now 16 years old and who began the strikes with a solo protest beginning last August... was one of about 3,000 student demonstrators in Antwerp, Belgium on Thursday, and joined protesters in Hamburg on Friday morning...
- Keeping track of the fast growing number of strikes is difficult, but many are registering on FridaysForFuture.org. So far, there are almost 500 events listed to take place on 15 March across 51 countries, making it the biggest strike day so far. Students plan to skip school across Western Europe, from the US to Brazil and Chile, and from Australia to Iran, India and Japan.
- Over the past six months, she has become a superstar of the climate change movement. Her school strike, which started out with her sitting alone on a camping mat next to parliament, was swiftly highlighted by the media...She speaks softly, often simply nodding when addressed... she only speaks when necessary.
- She says her dad often asks her to tone down her speeches, which she writes herself. “He becomes scared when he reads it, he is like, you shouldn’t say this, it is too provocative,” she says...
- Leslie Hook Greta Thunberg: ‘All my life I’ve been the invisible girl,’ Financial Times (22 February 2019)
- Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
- Thunberg's blithe disregard for the benefits of economic growth is not uncommon for people from wealthy countries who are already living in an industrialized world built by the fossil fuels of yesteryear. For them, they associate additional economic growth with access to high fashion and luxury cars. But for the billions of human beings living outside these places, fossil-fuel-driven industrialization can be the difference between life and death.
- Ryan McMaken, Greta Thunberg To Poor Countries: Drop Dead. Mises Institute, 26 September 2019
- As government ministers from around the globe gather in Katowice, Poland, for the final days of the 24th U.N. climate summit, we speak with 15-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who denounced politicians here last week for their inaction on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She has garnered global attention for carrying out a weekly school strike against climate change in her home country of Sweden.
- Thurnberg has an uncanny ability to concentrate... “I can do the same thing for hours,” she said....She began researching climate change and has stayed on the topic for six years. She has stopped eating meat and buying anything that is not absolutely necessary. In 2015, she stopped flying on airplanes, and a year later, her mother followed suit, giving up an international performing career. The family has installed solar batteries and has started growing their own vegetables on an allotment outside the city. To meet me in central Stockholm, Thunberg and her father rode their bikes for about half an hour; the family has an electric car that they use only when necessary.
- Masha Gessen, The Fifteen-Year-Old Climate Activist Who Is Demanding a New Kind of Politics, The New Yorker, (2 October 2018)