Greta Thunberg, teenage climate activist from Sweden, gave a speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City on 23rd September, in which she excoriated world leaders for not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis.
In her stinging speech, Thunberg expressed her anger at the governments that look for hope in young people, saying that her dreams and childhood were stolen. The teenager addressed the world leaders with thesewords: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
At the annual gathering of the UN, Donald Trump’s decision to appear but not participate in the climate summit has been widely noted, as the United States is one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world. Although Thunberg did not name the US president or other leaders, she made her point clear — accusing them of looking away and speaking of solutions that are nowhere to be found.
On June 1, 2017, Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement — a joint pact among nations that aimed for action to stop the rise of global temperatures. With Thunberg’s speech about dying people and ecosystems, Trump responded to reporters on CNN saying that he believes in clean air and water, but “all countries should get together (…) and do it for themselves.”
Trump’s fondness for Twitter insults and confrontations also played a role here. That same evening, in response to the video of Thunberg’s summit speech, Trump mocked her in a Twitter post : “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Refusing to allow Trump his insult, Thunberg changed her Twitter bio the following morning to Trump’s very words.
Thunberg wears the mantle of global leadership on climate change, while Trump claims it to be a hoax. With regard to future actions planned to fight the climate crisis, the dispute between the US President and the teenage activist continues.