“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up and change is coming whether you like it or not.”
Prominent climate activist Greta Thunberg has told world leaders that they have failed to act on climate change and that future generations will never forgive them if they continue to do so.
Thunberg was speaking at a climate summit attended by approximately 60 world leaders in New York, an event that took place just days after several million people in several countries, including Ireland, took part in a climate strike led by youth activists.
In a passionate speech, Thunberg told world leaders present at the summit – only countries with plans to fight carbon emissions were invited to speak, but US President Donald Trump was seen in the audience – that they “have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words”.
“You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is,” Thunberg added.
“You’re failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal.
“The eyes of all future generations are upon you.
“And, if you choose to fail us, we will never forgive you.
“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.
“The world is waking up and change is coming whether you like it or not.”
Thunberg was also one of 16 children to file a landmark complaint under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis.
The child petitioners – aged between eight and 17 – allege that Member States’ failure to tackle the climate crisis constitutes a violation of child rights and urged the independent body to order Member States to take action to protect children from the devastating impacts of climate change.
“Change needs to happen now if we are to avoid the worst consequences,” Thunberg said.
“The climate crisis is not just the weather. It means also, lack of food and lack of water, places that are unliveable and refugees because of it. It is scary.”
The complaint was filed through the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a voluntary mechanism which allows children or adults on their behalf to appeal directly to the United Nations for help if a country that has ratified the Protocol fails to provide a remedy for a rights violation.
Ireland has ratified the Third Optional Protocol.
“30 years ago, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Today, the world’s children are holding the world accountable to that commitment,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka.
“We fully support children exercising their rights and taking a stand. Climate change will impact every single one of them.
“It’s no wonder they are uniting to fight back.”