By Lauren Rearick
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, directly addressed politicians and business leaders attending the Austrian World Summit on Thursday, May 28. There, she stood up to people over twice her age and told them they have “failed” at providing the public with adequate information on the climate crisis.
Greta, who first gained recognition for holding protests outside of Swedish parliament as a means of demanding politicians take action to save the planet from imminent disaster, was among those invited to speak at this year’s summit. The annual event, led by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s R20 Regions of Climate Action, brings together members of the United Nations, politicians, and leaders in business to discuss how they can meet targets outlined in the The Paris Agreement, a resolution passed by the United Nations aimed at tackling climate change.
When she addressed the crowd, Thunberg said that world leaders still aren’t doing enough to address global warming, the Associated Press reported. The student called on those with platforms of power to better inform the public against “the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.” She added, “You cannot rely on people reading between the lines or searching for the information themselves.”
According to Deutsche Welle, Greta attributed a public lack of knowledge on the seriousness of the climate crisis to inaction. People, she pointed out, “have not been told, or more importantly, told by the right people.” She added that those in power, including celebrities, politicians, and CEOs were “basically not doing anything to stop the climate and ecological breakdown. They have gotten away with stealing our future and selling it for profit."
Greta has remained a staunch advocate in the fight against climate change since she began striking outside of her school in September 2018, per the New Yorker. Instead of attending class, she sat outside of the Swedish parliament building in Stockholm and asked for her country to take action on global heating. “I am protesting the climate crisis because it’s such an important issue. No one is doing anything, nothing is happening, so I must do what I can,” she told the BBC in February. Her weekly strikes went on to inspire others around the world to do the same, and social media users began using the hashtag #FridaysForFuture to chronicle their efforts.
In information released by NOAA, NASA and the U.K. Met Office, 2018 was recorded as Earth’s fourth hottest year on record, AXIOS reports. According to Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt, “The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change.” NASA has also called for wide-scale efforts, including international policies seeking cleaner forms of energy and sustainable city planning, to reverse the already catastrophic effects of global heating.