This story was originally published by Mother Jones and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration

On the first day of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, executives from its 1000 member companies as well as politicians and other world leaders gathered to drum up solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, and pat themselves on the back for their progress in certain areas—like climate change. Into this mix, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg appeared and castigated them for having any self-congratulatory feelings over the way climate change is being addressed—an increasingly popular talking point for attendees of the conference. Her message: You’re not even close to doing enough, much less assuming that adopting a measured approach is anything to be proud of.

During a panel discussion there, hosted by the New York Times, Thunberg condemned world leaders who may have sounded the alarm on climate, but then followed up with inaction—a display of bad faith, she said. Measuring the distance between abstract claims of concern and a lack of any real structural change, Thunberg said:

“You say children shouldn’t worry. You say: ‘Just leave this to us. We will fix this, we promise we won’t let you down. Don’t be so pessimistic.’ And then, nothing. Silence. Or something worse than silence. Empty words and promises which give the impression that sufficient action is being taken.”

Thunberg’s speech focused on how industrial and political leaders were trying to fold climate awareness into their current business and political systems, rather than acknowledge that only fundamental structural change—a complete world redesign—could effectively address the climate threat. Anything less would be falling short of the ambitious objectives leaders had set for themselves. “We don’t need to ‘lower emissions,'” she said. “Our emissions have to stop.” Countries stalling on meeting the Paris Accord climate goals are a perfect example of lofty rhetoric and negligible follow through. “The fact that we’re all about to fail the commitments you signed up for in the Paris Agreement doesn’t seem to bother the people in power even the least,” she said.

Even when action has been taken, Thunberg said, it’s uneven or has shown that climate change still isn’t being prioritized as it should. “We are not telling you to ‘offset your emissions,'” she said. “By just paying someone else to plant trees in places like Africa while at the same time forests like the Amazon are being slaughtered at an infinitely higher rate.” While those small-scale efforts are a necessary feature for a sustainable future, they’re “nowhere near enough” to substitute for systemic change.

Thunberg set out a list of four demands for the world’s decision-makers—a true litmus test for whether those in charge take the future of sustainability as seriously as they claim to:

“You say children shouldn’t worry. You say: ‘Just leave this to us. We will fix this, we promise we won’t let you down. Don’t be so pessimistic.’ And then, nothing. Silence..." @gretathunberg

“Immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

Immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies.

And immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels.

We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021. We want this done now.”

Whether those demands are met with the expediency Thunberg is calling for seems pretty unlikely. But as the World Economic Forum begins, this 17-year-old activist from Sweden just may have made it impossible for those who attended to pretend they are taking the threat of climate change with the urgency it demands.

Watch a video of Thunberg’s entire speech below:

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It wold be interesting to know who are behind Greta Thunberg. Who is using her, who pays all her expenses, the travels (fossil fueled jets and cars), hotels ( I'm sure it is with all the comforts provided by at least some fossil fuel), not to mention her quite well written speeches.
As I said before, this school drop out should be back in school, learning all about the subject to which she is so committed.

From the research I have done, it appears that most, or even all, of Greta's expenses have been covered by her parents, who are middle-class people (a musician and an actor) without huge resources.

Greta refuses to travel by jet, and even refused to come to Victoria, BC, as the ferry system is run by fossil fuel.

As I understand it, Greta writes all her speeches, which as you kindly note, are quite well done.

Since you are so concerned about her education, perhaps you should attend classes in Greta's stead, since she appears to know much more about the "subject to which she is so committed" than you.

From the research you’ve done: Please site sources and evidence of your assertions. I see a young girl who is uneducated spewing information provided to her by her handlers. When confronted by a journalist in Edmonton before her speech there, she gave the “HOW DARE YOU” and walked away. She can’t take questions that aren’t fed to her in advance. While the effort to preach about climate change is admirable, it’s comes across as squawking to me since she just complains yet never offers up any solutions. You know economies that have taken decades upon decades to build (on oil) just can’t simply be turned off without collapse and certain doom for millions. The biggest polluters aren’t ever visited - Think China would like to have her come over and preach? No, just walk around complaining to the countries that already do more than the others already. I’m not buying it - someone’s behind her “agenda”, and I doubt it’s her parents entirely.

It's at once sad and sadly amusing how the critique inevitably devolves from addressing the message, instead to insulting the messenger. Particularly if she's female. What's next? Her attire?
Like the rest of us, the youth climate activists must find ways to eat, to be clad, to be sheltered from the weather, to get from place to place, etc. And like the rest of us they're trapped, for now at least, into the thousand daily small hypocrisies of existence in a fossil-fueled economy, culture, civilization. If we focus on these petty problems, instead of the big one (atmospheric greenhouse gasses), we're doomed.

For specific information on who's funding Ms Thornburg's Davos audience and to what degree, see Peter Phillips new book "GIANTS; The Global Power Elite... a look at the top 389 most powerful players in world capitalism". (Seven Stories Press, 2018-08-08, ISBN: 9781609808716).
As with funding, fossil fuel consumption, hypocrisy, indeed most things; size (scale) matters.

Concerning your observations from beginning to end 2 thumbs up!

Summer 2019, she travelled from Sweden to Montreal, across the Atlantic Ocean on a wind-powered boat.
She stays with friends. She avoids fossil fuel as much as possible. She may have a speech writer, but the speeches are designed for the way she thinks and speaks.
She is as you say a school dropout, but her grasp of the urgency of climate change and the need to stop using fossil fuels NOW, for people her age is way beyond what she'd learning in school. She'd be wasting her time in school; she needs to get her message out. Like my Prime Minister of Canada who signed the Paris Accord has been wasting his time, and tax payers money, by getting oil sands, from Alberta to market, via pipe-lines, across indigenous lands, down to Vancouver/Burnaby Harbour, and that won't happen for another 2 years or more. He's late way too late for Greta Thunberg and me who is 84.

Catherine, I think you are confusing the messanger with the message.

Methinks a plug for Naomi Klein's latest book, "On Fire: The Burning Case For A Green New Deal" is needed here! In it you will find everything you need to know about this whole issue, well-researched, of course! If you find it difficult to assign any credibility to a desperate Swedish teenager, please get with the program and understand that the message from a respected Canadian activist is THE SAME!! The huge paradigm shift is required NOW!!! And it is COMPLETELY POSSIBLE!!