@GretaThunberg (16) gave the EU a lesson in climate policy

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker where given a lesson in climate policy when climate activist Greta Thunberg (16) came to Brussels. It’s your root we clean up, she said.

– Tens of thousands of children went on school strike for the climate on the streets of Brussels. Hundreds of thousands do the same around the world. We are striking because we have done our homework, and some of us are here today, Thunberg said.

Flanked by the leaders of the student actions in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, she spoke in front of prominent EU figures, including the European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

– People always tell us that they are so hopeful that they hope we young people will save the world. But we are not hopeful, Thunberg said. “We simply do not have time to wait for us to become adults and take over,” she said.

An environmentalist icon

Thunberg has already become an icon for student actions, which are now spreading from country to country in Europe. It all began when Thunberg started his schooling for the climate in Sweden last year.

On Thursday she was going to march with the Belgian students she has inspired herself.

It was Anuna de Wever and Kyra Gantois who took the initiative for the Belgian marches, where tens of thousands of students have been school striking every Thursday the last few weeks to attend. Gantois tells NTB that she has no idea how big it was.

– I and Anuna just made a video where we said come and join. And then people came, she says.

Requires stricter EU goals

Their requirement is a substantial tightening of effort. Even so, the EU’s level of ambition is far from high enough, Thunberg warned. She pointed to the EU’s goal of cutting emissions by 40 percent by 2030 – a goal Juncker has proposed to sharpen to 45 percent. But neither is that enough, according to Thunberg. She believes the EU will cut emissions by at least 80 percent by 2030 if the climate targets are to be achieved. – Many politicians will not talk to us. That is fine. We don’t want to talk to them either. We want them to talk to the researchers instead. Listen to them. Because we just repeat what they say and have said for decades, she said.


Thunberg, at the same time, strongly opposed with those who claim the pupil action is a result of manipulation on the web, and who criticizes the children for shaming. These are only desperate attempts to turn the focus away from the matter, she said. – If you think we should go to school instead, then I think you should rather shut down your work and take our place in the streets. Or better yet: Join us! Then we may be able to make this happen even faster. Just don’t ask students not to do anything, warned the climate activist. – You can’t just sit and wait for hope to come. Then you act like a spoiled, irresponsible young child, Thunberg said. – We’ve started cleaning up your mess. And we don’t give up until we’re done! she said.

Happy about the engagement

Juncker, on the other hand, had little to say when he got the word afterward. He joked that he still hadn’t recovered completely after Wednesday’s meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May. “But I’m happy to see young people demonstrate for the climate in Europe,” said Juncker, adding that he himself demonstrated in his leisure time when he was young.

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