Swedish Teen Joins Arnold Schwarzenegger in Slamming World Leaders Over Climate ‘Emergency’

Patrick Goodenough | May 29, 2019 | 5:00am EDT
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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the R20 Austrian World Summit on May 28, 2019 in Vienna. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – The inaction of political leaders and corporations in the face of the climate “emergency” will likely be remembered as a crime against humanity, and those who are aware of the consequences but do nothing “must be held accountable,” teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg said Tuesday.

Addressing a climate change summit in Vienna hosted by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 16-year-old Swede said it shouldn’t be up to children to take responsibility for the “climate crisis,” but “since most world leaders are behaving like children, we have no other choice.”

“This is an emergency, and world leaders are not acting accordingly,” she told Schwarzenegger’s R20 Austrian World Summit. “They won’t do anything, but we will. We will try to do everything we can to make them act.”

Thunberg, who has Asperger’s, has become a global phenomenon since launching a solo demonstration outside the Swedish parliament last summer, skipping classes to hold her “school strike for climate,” first daily, and later on Fridays.

Inspired by her activism and mobilized via social media, hundreds of thousands of school children around the world have held demonstrations, with big events on March 15 and again last Friday. Another is being planned for September.

Thunberg has met with leaders including Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile she has insisted that her family give up flying and become vegan.

‘Point of no return’

Through measures to reduce carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases,” the 2015 Paris accord aims to prevent average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in a bid to prevent what advocates warn could be catastrophic effects on the planet.

(The Trump administration last August lodged formal notification that the U.S. was pulling out of the Paris agreement. The actual withdrawal process takes at least three years.)

Last October the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said limiting warming to 1.5 rather than two degrees is necessary to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, and said the planet has only until around 2030 to do so – a warning some activists have summarized as “12 years to save the planet.”

“The latest IPCC report says that if we haven’t made the changes required by approximately the year 2030 we will probably set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that we will pass a point of no return, which will be catastrophic,” Thunberg told the crowd on Tuesday.

“It is still possible within the laws of physics to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis – but not for long, and not if we continue like this.”

Thunberg said the “older generations” and political leaders “have failed us.”

“This ongoing inaction of people in power and the companies responsible will in the future no doubt be remembered as a crime against humanity,” she said. “Those who know of the consequences of business-as-usual for all living species must be held accountable, if they’re still not doing anything.”


Addressing the R20 event in Austria, Schwarzenegger compared climate activism to “all the greatest movements in the history of mankind,” citing the anti-apartheid struggle and the fight for civil rights in the U.S. among others.

Like Thunberg, he also had strong criticism for politicians.

“They all flew to Paris in 2015 for COP 21 and they all sat down and they signed that they’re going to reduce greenhouse gases all over the world,” he said, referring to the U.N. climate summit known as the 21st “conference of the parties” to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“All the nations signed on, and they set certain goals. And now four years later – D’uh. D’uh.”

“Now, four years later they figured out that they didn’t reach their goals,” Schwarzenegger added. “Most of the countries did not reach their goals, so they made empty promises. They were lying to you.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger addresses the event in Vienna. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)

Schwarzenegger in 2010 launched R20, a non-profit organization, with the support of the U.N.

Also taking part in the summit was Guterres, who also used the word “emergency” to describe the climate change situation.

“Rarely a day goes by without a new disaster highlighting the perils of a warming world,” he said. “Climate disruption is upon us, and it is progressing faster than our efforts to address it.”

“That is why coalitions such as yours are so important, because you recognize the emergency, and you are acting on it.”

Guterres is planning another “climate action summit” in New York in September, and said he is “asking leaders not to come with beautiful speeches but to come with concrete plans to promote the climate action we need.”

During a recent visit to New Zealand, he praised “the leadership of the youth” in tackling climate change, urging young people to be “as noisy as possible.”

After Thunberg finished speaking in Vienna, the crowd sang the “Song for the Climate”:

We need to wake up
We need to wise up
We need to open our eyes
And do it now, now, now!
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now

We’re on a planet
That has a problem
We’ve got to solve it, get involved
And do it now, now, now!
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now

Make it greener
Make it cleaner
Make it last, make it fast
And do it now, now, now!
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now

No point in waiting
Or hesitating
We must get wise, take no more lies
And do it now, now, now!
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now

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