On 23 July, Greta Thunberg gave a passionate speech to the French National Assembly on climate change and the need for immediate action. Thunberg is the 16-year-old leader of Fridays for Future, a movement to encourage students to protest for more ambitious action on climate change.
Here is the full text of her speech:
We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis.
And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.
We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things.
We admit that we are losing this battle.
We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed.
But homo sapiens have not yet failed.
Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands.
But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.
We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.
Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.
And either we do that, or we don’t.
You say that nothing in life is black or white, but that is a lie. A very dangerous lie.
Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t.
Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, or we don’t.
Either we choose to go on as a civilisation or we don’t.
That is as black or white as it gets.
Because there are no grey areas when it comes to survival.
Now we all have a choice.
We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations, or we can continue with our business as usual and fail. That is up to you and me.
And yes, we need a system change rather than individual change. But you cannot have one without the other.
If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me.
So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible.
Today, we use about 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.
So, we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed.
Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.
So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.
Image by Anders Hellberg