Our earth is our home and our house is still on fire, young climate activist Greta Thunberg reiterated this week. At the World Economic Forum, Thunberg, who was recently honored as the youngest ever TIME Person of the Year for work in climate change, took the stage once again to call out people in power. During her talk, she scolded leaders around the world for doing “basically nothing” to address reduce carbon emissions despite the ever-growing threat of total climate catastrophe.
“Pretty much nothing has been done since the global emissions of CO2 has not reduced. If you see it from that aspect, what has concretely been done, if you see it from a bigger perspective, basically nothing,” she said.
On Thursday, after Thunberg received praise from even a member of the Royal family for her work, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know the world-famous activist and said he would recognize her after she "studies economics in college." Thunberg responded with receipts: she said it doesn't take a college degree to realize the climate crisis. On Twitter, Thunberg also called out Mnuchin on investments that "don't add up."
Each year, WEF gathers leaders in politics, business and finance who come together to discuss the most pressing issues. Thunberg used this meeting as an opportunity to yet again bring awareness to the climate crisis that is currently plaguing Australia with spreading fires. Ultimately, the teen activist explained that while it’s important that there’s generally more awareness of how serious the issue is, not enough has changed. To her, the world is still not treating it like an emergency.
“Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour,” Thunberg declared. “Let’s be clear: we don’t need a low carbon economy, we don’t need to lower emissions — our emissions have to stop.”
According to Thunberg, this is the only thing that would keep temperatures from rising past 1.5 degrees. Along with other young activists, she is now calling for governments to stop funding the production of fossil fuels internationally to reduce the rapid rise of global emissions that threaten the earth. “We don't want these things done by 2050, or 2030 or even 2021 — we want this done now,” she said.
The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report speaks to the urgency of the issue that Thunberg is using her platform to elevate. It finds that countries can only release approximately another 420 gigatons of carbon dioxide to have even a 67% chance to keep temperatures under 1.5 degrees. According to scientific calculations, at our current levels of emissions, that amount of CO2 will be emitted within about eight and a half years. "Even with a 1C increase people are dying of climate change. Every fraction of a degree matters," she stated.
Thunberg did however emphasized that she isn’t complaining about not being heard, because she’s being heard “all the time.” This is not about her, as she has repeatedly declared, this is about people caring about the facts and taking action. Thunberg's rejected any awards that try to turn her into a celebrity rather than a vessel of change, and implores her young peers to take the same level of humility in fighting this cause. Along with fellow climate change influencers like Indigenous water activist Autumn Peltier and co-founder of the U.S. Climate Strike Isra Hirsi want action, Thunberg implores adults to take action at the highest level.
But, her disappointment in people who have power and fail to use it was palpable. She has consistently begged world leaders, including Congress, to listen to the scientists.
When asked what she’d like to see done in the next year and a half, Thunberg said, “That we start listening to the science and that we actually start treating these crises as the crises they are, because without treating it like a crisis, we cannot solve it.”
At the end of the day, we must all start working with more urgency. "Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour," Greta said, explaining that we must panic, but we must use that to fuel our efforts to save the planet.