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Teen climate activist warns EU it's time to panic

  • 16 Apr 2019

Sweden's Greta Thunberg told lawmakers, "I want you to act as if the house is on fire," as she warned about species extinction, deforestation and ocean pollution.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (R) speaks during a debate with the EU Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee during a session at the European Parliament on April 16, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. ( AFP Archive )

Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg said time is running out to halt climate change and she's urging European politicians "to panic."

"I want you to act as if the house is on fire," Thunberg told EU lawmakers in France on Tuesday.

"If our house was falling apart, you wouldn't hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and environment."

During a speech met with a standing ovation, Thunberg fought back tears as she warned about rapid species extinction, soil erosion, deforestation and the pollution of oceans.

'EU Parliament elections essential'

Time is running out to stop the ravages of global warming, Thunberg, 16, told a press conference during a visit to the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg.

"I think it is essential to vote in the European Union election," Thunberg said when asked about the May 23-26 elections for a new European Parliament. 

"I'm not going to vote in the European election because I can't," she said. Thunberg is too young to vote in Sweden.

"Therefore it's especially important for those who actually can vote to give us that in order to speak on behalf of people like me who are going to be affected very much by this crisis," Thunberg said.

Following a meeting with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Thunberg urged voters to use the opportunity to "influence the decisions" on climate taken by elected and appointed officials.

"We still have an open window that is not going be open for long in which we can act," she said.

"So we need to take that opportunity to do something and they [politicians] should do something."

EU greenhouse cuts

During a visit to Brussels in February, Thunberg urged the EU to double its ambition for greenhouse gas cuts, upping its target from 40 percent to 80 percent by 2030.

Under the 2015 Paris deal to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, the 28-nation EU has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990.

EU officials are now talking of increasing the figure to 45 percent.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) has said warming is on track toward an unliveable 3C or 4C rise, and avoiding global chaos will require a major transformation.

Thunberg has inspired tens of thousands of children worldwide to boycott classes to draw attention to climate change.

A demonstration calling attention to climate change is due to take place on Tuesday in Strasbourg before the parliament.

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