Her remarks reminded us what leadership, courage and sacrifice look like.
By Michael H. Fuchs
The Guardian (9/25/19)
At the 2019 annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, a 16-year-old climate activist took the mantle of global leadership usually reserved for the US president.
Donald Trump’s decision to not participate in the UN climate summit illustrated just how devastatingly Trump’s climate-denying policies have undermined America’s role in the world as a force for good, and how his actions could contribute to the destruction of the futures of countless billions. Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg called him – and other world leaders – out for their malign neglect in failing to address the single most existential threat humanity faces, while revealing the energy with which a new generation of leaders is determined to act.
“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal… We will not let you get away with this… The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Each year, leaders come to New York and remind us of the promise of the United Nations – the notion that the international community can work together to solve shared challenges. The meetings can also showcase the ability of US leadership to encourage countries to tackle serious threats. These gatherings can yield genuine results – commitments to tackle a pandemic like Ebola, for instance. Whether crafting solutions to pressing challenges or inspiring the world to act, UNGA can remind us how much America can achieve when it leads and works together with partners.
Not this year. Of course, Trump’s mere presence is more than enough to sap the power of American diplomacy on the world’s greatest diplomatic stage, and this year Trump again came ready to embarrass himself – and America – by roaming the halls of the UN reminding the public that he attempted to force the president of Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden in a move that should be worthy of a unanimous impeachment conviction.
And so, Trump refusing to participate in the UN climate summit was little surprise …
- Greta Thunberg Deftly Puts ‘Haters’ In Their Place With Stunning Twitter Thread — The teen climate change activist said she didn’t “understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science.” … Read the Rest
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Greta’s Address To World Leaders At UN
“If world leaders choose to fail us, my generation will never forgive them.”
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me 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 fairytales 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 are 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 don’t want to believe that. Because if you fully understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And I refuse to believe that.
“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C degrees, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.
“Maybe 50% is acceptable to you. But those numbers don’t include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of justice and equity. They also rely on my and my children’s generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 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 1.5C 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 1 January 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years.
“There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures 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. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”