“How dare you”. This was the considered response delivered to the world’s leaders at the opening of the UN Climate Summit, by 16-year-old global climate action activist Greta Thunberg.

Thunberg, recognised for voicing the climate concerns of the younger generation, with brutally-clear logic, borne from sincerity, due to her suffering from Aspergers Syndrome, delivered the sharp rebuke, along with a stern, if not haunting warning: “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. We will not let you get away with this. Right here and right now is where we draw the line.”

Thunberg preceded her warning with a calm, pointed, and at times emotional address with these words:

“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 at the beginning of mass extinction, and you can only talk about money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?

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

You say you hear us and 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 ten years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off uncontrollable chain reactions beyond human control. 50% may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, feedback loops, additional pollution, or the aspects of equity and climate justice.

They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds to billions of tons of your CO-2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us, we who have to live with the consequences.

To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5-degree temperature rise, the best odds given by the IPCC, the world had 420 gigatons of CO-2 left to admit back on January 1, 2018. Today that figure is only down to less than 350 gigatons.

How dare you say this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO-2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8.5 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.”

Watch the 4-minute video above, courtesy of the UNDESA DISD.

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