Activist Greta Thunberg angrily denounced world leaders for failing to tackle climate change, unleashing the outrage felt by millions of her peers in the heart of the United Nations by demanding: “How dare you?”
The Swedish campaigner’s brief address electrified the start of a summit aimed at mobilising government and business to break international paralysis over carbon emissions, which hit record highs last year despite decades of warnings from scientists.
“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?” said Thunberg, 16, her voice quavering with emotion.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said.
Pope Francis, in a message broadcast to the conference, called for honesty, responsibility and courage to face “one of the most serious and worrying phenomena of our time”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who questions climate science and has challenged every major U.S. regulation aimed at combating climate change, made a brief appearance in the audience of the summit along with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He did not speak but he listened to remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as a U.N. special envoy on climate action, called out Trump’s low-key appearance before he spoke on Monday: “Hopefully our deliberations will be helpful to you as you formulate climate policy,” he said to audience laughter.
Merkel announced Germany would double its contribution to a U.N. fund to support less developed countries to combat climate change to 4 billion euros from 2 billion euros.