DAVOS, Switzerland – Greta Thunberg spoke here on Tuesday afternoon at an event organized by The New York Times and the World Economic Forum. Here is the full transcript of his comments:
A year ago, I came to Davos and told him that our house is on fire. I said I wanted you to panic. I have been warned that it is very dangerous to make people panic about the climate crisis. But do not worry. It's ok. Trust me, I’ve done this before and I can guarantee that it doesn’t lead to anything.
And, for the record, when we children ask you to panic, we're not telling you to continue as before. We are not telling you to trust technologies that don't even exist on a large scale today and that science says they may never exist.
We are not telling you to keep talking about achieving "zero net emissions" or "carbon neutrality" by cheating and messing with numbers. We are not telling you to "offset your emissions" just by paying someone to plant trees in places like Africa, while at the same time forests like the Amazon are being cut down at an infinitely higher rate.
Tree planting is good, of course, but it doesn't come close to what is needed and cannot replace true mitigation and invigorating nature.
Let's be clear. We don't need a "low carbon economy". We don't need to "reduce emissions". Our emissions need to stop if we are to stay below the 1.5 degree target. And, until we have the technologies that at scale can reduce our emissions, we must forget the net zero. We need real zero.
Since the distant net emission targets of zero will mean absolutely nothing if we continue to ignore the carbon dioxide budget – which applies today, not at distant future dates. If high emissions continue as they do now, even for a few years, that remaining budget will soon be completely exhausted.
The fact that the US is leaving the Paris agreement seems to indignate and worry everyone, and it should. But the fact that we are about to fail in the commitments you signed in the Paris Agreement does not seem to bother even the people in power.
Any plan or policy of yours that does not include radical emission reductions at source, as of today, is completely insufficient to meet commitments of 1.5 degrees or much below 2 degrees of the Paris Agreement.
And again, it is not about right or left. We couldn't care less about your party's policy. From the point of view of sustainability, the right, the left and the center have failed. No political ideology or economic structure has been able to deal with the climatic and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world. Because this world, in case you haven't noticed, is on fire right now.
You say that children should not worry. You say, “Leave this to us. We will resolve this, we promise that we will not disappoint you. Don't be so pessimistic. "
And then, nothing. Silence. Or something worse than silence. Empty words and promises that give the impression that enough action is being taken.
Obviously, all solutions are not available in today's societies. We also don't have time to wait for new technological solutions to be available to start drastically reducing our emissions. So, of course, the transition will not be easy. It's gonna be hard. And unless we start to tackle this now together, with all the cards on the table, we won't be able to resolve this in time.
In the days leading up to the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum, I joined a group of climate activists demanding that you, the most powerful and influential business and political leaders in the world, begin to take the necessary steps.
At this year's World Economic Forum, we demand participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments:
Stop all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction immediately.
End all fossil fuel subsidies immediately.
And immediately and completely divesting from fossil fuels.
We don't want these things to be done until 2050, 2030 or until 2021. We want this to be done now.
It may seem that we are asking too much. And you will obviously say that we are naive. But this is just the minimum effort needed to start the rapid sustainable transition.
So either you do this or you have to explain to your children why you are giving up on the 1.5 degree target. Give up without even trying. Well, I'm here to tell you that, unlike you, my generation won't give up without a fight.
The facts are clear, but they are still very uncomfortable for you to address. You just left because you find it very depressing and people will give up. But people are not going to give up. You are the ones who are giving up.
Last week, I found Polish miners who lost their jobs because the mine was closed. And even they did not give up. On the contrary, they seem to understand the fact that we need to change more than you do.
I wonder, what would you say to your children that was the reason for your failure and leaving them facing the climatic chaos that you consciously brought over them? What seemed so bad for the economy that we decided to give up the idea of guaranteeing future living conditions without even trying?
Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames every hour. And we're telling you to act like you love your kids above all else.