Greta Thunberg: Teen activist tells EU ‘to panic’ over climate change

‘I want you to act as though the house was on fire’

Zamira Rahim
Tuesday 16 April 2019 18:47 BST
Greta Thunberg spoke at the European Parliament on 16 April
Greta Thunberg spoke at the European Parliament on 16 April (AFP/Getty Images)

European politicians should "panic” over climate change, according to a teenage environment activist and founder of the school strike movement.

“I am 16 years old, I come from Sweden and I want you to panic,” Greta Thunberg told MEPs at the European Parliament. “I want you to act as if the house was on fire. I have said those words before and a lot of people have explained why that is a bad idea."

She added: “A great number of politicians have told me that panic never leads to anything good and I agree. To panic, unless you have to, is a terrible idea. But when your house is on fire and you want to keep your house from burning to the ground then that does require some level of panic.”

Parliamentarians gave the teenager a standing ovation.

Ms Thunberg became emotional as she warned about species extinction, deforestation and ocean pollution in her remarks.

Referring to the international fundraising effort to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, she told politicians to use “cathedral thinking” to fight climate change.

The schoolgirl who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last month for her work fighting against climate change, started to skip school to protest against climate change outside the Swedish Parliament last August.

She did not return for three weeks, documenting her demonstration on Instagram and Twitter, where it soon gained global attention.

Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture movement has since grown, with students using the weekday to protest outside of parliaments and city halls around the world.

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A global climate strike on 15 March was inspired by the movement. Schoolchildren in nearly 100 countries participated in the protest, demanding more action to save the environment.

A recent United Nations report stated that global temperatures could rise by 1.5°C – a threshold scientists believe the planet cannot surpass without experiencing damaging effects of climate change.

The report said that temperatures had already risen 1°C and the planet could reach the 1.5°C threshold as early as 2030 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate.

Additional reporting by agencies

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