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Greta Thunberg has an important message for UK politicians refusing to act on climate change

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Moya Crockett
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Greta Thunberg

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is in London to meet with British politicians – and she knows exactly what she will say to them. 

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate change activist from Sweden who sparked an international youth movement by going on strike from school, has shared a message for politicians in the UK – and called on adults to do more to address the growing climate crisis.

Thunberg is currently in the UK, and is due to visit the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday (23 April). She will also take part in an event with the leaders of all the main political parties, with the exception of Theresa May.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Thunberg said her message for politicians was: “Listen to the science, listen to the scientists. Invite them to talk.

“I am just speaking on behalf of them, I’m trying to say what they’ve been saying for decades,” she added.

Greta Thunberg addresses Extinction Rebellion protesters
Greta Thunberg addresses Extinction Rebellion protesters in London on 21 April

In August 2018, Thunberg announced that she would not attend school until Sweden’s general election on 9 September. She demanded that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and sat outside the Swedish parliament every day during school hours holding a sign reading Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate).

After the election, she continued striking on Fridays, and has been credited with inspiring students around the world to strike from school to demand action on climate change.

Her campaign has brought her international fame. In the last week alone, Thunberg has met Pope Francis in the Vatican and addressed members of the European parliament. She has also been nominated for the Nobel peace prize. 

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Speaking to the BBC, Thunberg said she first became aware of climate change when she was about eight years old.

“When I was 11 I became very depressed,” she added. “It had a lot to do with the climate and ecological crisis. I thought everything was just so wrong and nothing was happening and there’s no point in anything.”

However, when she realised she could make a difference, she promised herself that she would “do something good with my life”.

Thunberg also voiced her support for the Extinction Rebellion protests that have brought parts of London to a standstill over the last week. Climate change activists have been occupying parts of the capital since 15 April, and it is estimated that around 1,000 have now been arrested as part of the protests.

Asked whether the Extinction Rebellion protests were necessary, Thunberg said: “As long as it’s non-violent, I think that could definitely make a difference.”

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Thunberg previously stated her support for the activists during a panel discussion in London on Earth Day (22 April).

“I support Extinction Rebellion. What they are doing is good,” she said, according to The Guardian.

“Civil disobedience is important to show this is an emergency. We need to do everything we can to put pressure on the people in power.”

Thunberg also emphasised that protests may need to spread to get politicians to act on climate change.

“This is not just young people being sick of politicians. It’s an existential crisis,” she said.

“It is something that will affect the future of our civilisation. It’s not just a movement. It’s a crisis and we must take action accordingly.”

Images: Getty Images