Greta Thunberg delivered a 15-minute address to around 150 people, rounding off her two-day tour of Capitol Hill, Washington DC. Her speech was greeted with a standing ovation and followed by a panel discussion.
The teenage activist from Sweden took the lectern under a giant chandelier in a grand committee room and smiled as she resumed her call to arms against the climate crisis.
“The USA is the biggest carbon polluter in history,” Thunberg told the audience. “It is also the world’s number one producer of oil. It is also the only nation to signal its intention to leave the Paris climate agreement because it was ‘a bad deal’.”
Speaking softly, she modulated her voice slightly to make clear she was quoting, disapprovingly, Donald Trump with the words “a bad deal”.
Thunberg invoked Martin Luther King’s struggle for civil rights and John F Kennedy’s goals that included landing a man on the moon – “not because they are easy, but because they are hard”, – to plead with Washington to lead in the fight, even if it seems impossible. “Giving up can never be an option,” she said.
Thunberg emphasized the need for urgent intervention and called politicians to step outside their comfort zones and start “treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is”. Dreams, including promises of green jobs and industries, are not enough, she added.
“Dreams cannot stand in the way of telling it like it is, especially right now… Wherever I go, I seem to be surrounded by fairytales.”
The teenager activist accused business leaders and others of telling “stories” intended to soothe people and make them go back to sleep. “The problem now is we need to wake up. It is time to wake up and face the facts, the reality, the science.”
Thunberg added: “This is, above all, an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced and we need to treat it accordingly… Stop telling people ‘everything will be fine’… Stop pretending you, your business idea, your political party or plan will solve everything.”
Changing one disastrous energy source for “a slightly less disastrous one” is not progress, she continued. “Richer countries need to do their fair share and reduce their emissions much more and much faster.”
Thunberg, was scheduled to take a train to New York on Wednesday night, was asked about her observations of the way Washington works. She replied: “It’s definitely more calm than I thought. Everything is just happening so slow and people are just repeating the same things over and over again.
“I have heard so many politicians here say the same things over and over again. If it continues like that, we’re not going to get anywhere. We need to move forward from that and transform words into actions. My impression is it’s very calm, slow and diplomatic, which has its ups and downs.”
She also had a message for those who feel depressed or paralyzed by the scale of the crisis. “I started to do something, take action, try to make a difference instead of sitting in despair. That changed my life. It gives your life meaning. To know you can have impact, it makes you feel a lot better.”
The speech was greeted with a standing ovation and followed by a panel discussion.
Original source: https://countercurrents.org