Davos WEF

Greta Thunberg says world leaders are running out of time to tackle climate emergency

Key Points
  • "I know you don't want to talk about this," the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist said, before adding that she intends to keep repeating herself until the appropriate action is taken.
  • Her comments come as policymakers and business leaders arrive in Switzerland for the start of the WEF's four-day annual conference, with those in attendance scheduled to focus on the intensifying climate crisis.
  • It follows the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, the second-hottest year for global average temperatures, and wildfires from the U.S. to the Amazon to Australia.
VIDEO1:5401:54
Greta Thunberg urges world leaders in Davos to tackle climate change

DAVOS, Switzerland — Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg told policymakers at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday that time is running out to effectively tackle an intensifying climate crisis.

Speaking during a panel session entitled "Forging a Sustainable Path Towards a Common Future," the 17-year-old cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2018 as she delivered remarks to a packed audience.

The IPCC report states the remaining carbon budget would need to fall below 570 gigatons of carbon dioxide in the coming years if the world is to have a 67% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"With today's emissions levels, the remaining budget is gone in less than eight years," Thunberg said. "These aren't anyone's views. This is the science."

"I've been repeating these numbers at nearly every speech I've given for the last 18 months."

"I know you don't want to talk about this," Thunberg continued, before adding that she intends to keep repeating herself until the appropriate action is taken.

VIDEO1:5601:56
US climate inaction has left a hole to be filled by businesses: Nasdaq CEO

Her comments come as policymakers and business leaders arrived in Switzerland for the start of the WEF's four-day annual conference, with those in attendance scheduled to focus on the intensifying climate crisis.

The event, which is often criticized for being out of touch with the real world, has said it aims to assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress toward the Paris Agreement and the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals.

It follows the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, the second-hottest year for global average temperatures, and wildfires from the U.S. to the Amazon to Australia.

VIDEO8:4008:40
Trump vs Greta: How climate change took over Davos

'Pretty much nothing has been done'

Thunberg was catapulted to fame for skipping school every Friday to hold a weekly vigil outside the Swedish Parliament in 2018.

She was recently named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019 after sparking an international wave of school strikes — also known as "Fridays for Future." Last year, millions of children took part in rallies around the world to protest political inaction over climate change.

When asked to reflect on what, if anything, had improved in recent years, Thunberg replied: "In one aspect, lots has happened that no one could have predicted."

"The climate and the environment is a hot topic right now and a lot of that is thanks to young people pushing," Thunberg said.

"But, of course, if you see it from another perspective, pretty much nothing has been done since the global emissions of CO2 (have) not reduced. That, of course, is what we are trying to achieve among other things."

"It will require much more than this. This is just the very beginning," she added.

Speaking at the same event last year, Thunberg told those gathered that she wanted them to "panic" and to "act as you would in a crisis."

"I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is," Thunberg said at last year's WEF.