Davos WEF
Davos WEF

'Our house is still on fire,' Greta Thunberg tells Davos

Key Points
  • The 17-year-old urged world leaders in Davos to "act as if you loved your children above all else."
  • Thunberg said she had been warned that telling people to panic, as she had done last year at the same event, was dangerous but quipped "don't worry it's fine I've done this before and I can assure you it doesn't lead to anything."
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Greta Thunberg urges world leaders in Davos to tackle climate change

Teen-age activist Greta Thunberg told world political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday that their inaction on the climate crisis was "fueling the flames by the hour."

The 17-year-old exhorted the World Economic Forum audience to "act as if you loved your children above all else."

Thunberg said she had been warned that telling people to panic, as she had done last year at the same event, was dangerous but quipped "don't worry it's fine I've done this before and I can assure you it doesn't lead to anything."

And by panic, Thunberg said this did not mean relying on technologies that don't yet, or may never, exist on scale, or by talking about reaching carbon neutrality by "cheating and fiddling" around with numbers.

In fact, the climate activist said it was not a case of simply lowering carbon emissions or promising net zero but "real zero" emissions.

She said panic also did not mean offsetting emissions by just paying someone else to plant trees in other countries, like Africa.

Thunberg said if high emissions continued, the remaining carbon budget, something she spoke of during a panel earlier on Tuesday, would soon be "completely used up."

And while Thunberg agreed people were right to feel "outrage and worry" at the news the U.S. was to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, she pointed out that the leaders of the other countries in the accord did not seem bothered that they were about to fail on their commitments.

But she stated that this problem was not about political parties on the right, left or center but that everyone across the spectrum had failed at tackling the environmental emergency.

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'All cards on the table'

Thunberg acknowledged that all the solutions did not exist to tackle the climate crisis and that the transition to cutting emissions would be "hard," but said it needed to be faced "now, together, with all cards on the table."

She, along with other climate activists, have demanded all participants in the World Economic Forum to immediately end investment in fossil fuel exploration, extraction and subsidies for the sector.

Thunberg said that companies and governments would have to comply or be forced to explain to their children why they were giving up on the global warming target, of 1.5 degrees Celsius, "without even trying."

She added that "unlike you, my generation will not give up without a fight."

"I wonder what will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing a climate chaos that you knowingly brought upon them," she said.

The 17-year-old activist shot to fame in 2018 for skipping school every Friday to hold a vigil outside the Swedish Parliament to call for action against climate change.