Greta Thunberg condemned world leaders for their inaction on climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday, calling their failure to plan for drastic cuts in carbon emissions, which scientists say we need to avoid catastrophe, a "betrayal" of young people.
"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," Thunberg said. "And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. 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!"
While there were a few signs of progress at the summit, most of the biggest polluters failed to propose meaningful change.
“There’s a big dissonance between every leader saying to Greta, ‘We hear you’ and the commitments they are putting on to the table,” Isabel Cavelier, senior advisor at the Mission 2020 climate group, told The Guardian. “China said absolutely nothing new, India mentioned commitments made in the past, the U.S., Canada, and Australia aren’t here. We are seeing governments showing up empty-handed. There’s a feeling that the big emitters are holding things back.”
Though Thunberg's work has dominated coverage, there are also scores of young people around the world who have joined the movement against climate change, many of whom are participating in the Global Climate Strike this week. Several of them, along with Thunberg — including Alexandria Villaseñor, Chiara Sacchi, Catarina Lorenzo, Iris Duquesne, Raina Ivanova, and Deborah Adegbile — recently filed a lawsuit against five of the world’s major carbon polluters, stating that the countries are violating their rights as children. If the lawsuit succeeds, the U.N. would classify the climate crisis as a children’s rights crisis.
For those wondering how to stop sitting on the sidelines and join activists around the world in their fight for climate justice, here are a few ways to get involved.
Find a Global Climate Strike near you.
On Friday, September 27, people around the world will be taking to the streets — again (the first strike was on Friday, September 20) — to cap off a global week of action. Find your local climate strike here. Why join? "We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations, and climate justice at its heart. But it’s going to take all of us working together to succeed," according to the organisers' website.
Join a local campaign — or consider starting your own.
Learn how to organise & mobilise.
The Global Climate Strike organisers are holding online trainings around the world on September 25 and October 2 on how to make the most impact in the movement for climate justice. You can find out how to join an online orientation here. If you want to gain skills in campaigning and organising in your own community, you can also join an online training on causes of climate change, how to have climate change conversations, and more.
Continue striking every Friday.
The Global Climate Strike grew out of a grassroots movement called #FridaysforFuture, which started with Greta Thunberg sitting outside of Swedish parliament all by herself every school day for three weeks. #FridaysforFuture is growing: Find out how to join the movement here.
Volunteer or donate to environmental organisations.
Become educated on climate change.
The best thing you can do before you take action on any issue is become educated on it. There are many resources where you can start, including Inside Climate News and Climate Central. You can also go straight to the source; the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. (It may be 2,000 pages long, but the website makes it easy to read with summaries and graphics.)