Quantcast

Greta Thunberg Chastises European Parliament for Prioritizing Brexit Over Climate Change

Climate
Greta Thunberg addresses members of Europe's Parliament Tuesday. FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP / Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old who has inspired young people around the world to strike from school over climate change, addressed the European Parliament's environment committee Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

At one point during her speech at the parliament's seat in Strasbourg, Thunberg choked back tears as she discussed the sixth mass extinction.


"The extinction rate is up to six times faster than what is considered normal, with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day," she said. "Erosion of fertile topsoil, deforestation of the rainforest, toxic air pollution, loss of insects and wildlife, acidification of our oceans — these are all disastrous trends."

Here are some other highlights of her talk.

1. Brexit: Thunberg faulted European leaders for spending more time addressing the UK's departure from the EU than the climate crisis, saying that they were not treating the latter like the emergency it is.

"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 the environment," she said.

During the same section, Thunberg argued that the EU continued to celebrate milestones — such as Ireland's possible divestment from fossil fuels — that fell behind the urgency of the moment.

"It's 30 years too late for that kind of celebration," she said.

2. EU Elections: The next elections for members of European Parliament (MEPs) will take place in late May. Thunberg addressed this in her talk, mentioning that she and other young people worried about their futures cannot vote.

"You need to listen to us, we who cannot vote. You need to vote for us, for your children and grandchildren. What we are doing now, can soon no longer be undone. In this election, you vote for the future living conditions of humankind," she said.

3. Notre Dame: Thunberg made two references to the fire that caused the spire of the historic Paris cathedral to collapse Monday.

"Yesterday, the world watched with despair and enormous sorrow how the Notre Dame burned in Paris. Some buildings are more than just buildings. But the Notre Dame will be rebuilt. I hope that its foundations are strong. I hope that our foundations are even stronger, but I fear they are not," she said at the beginning of her speech.

She referenced the church again towards the end, saying that the vision and courage required to make the necessary changes to combat climate change would require "cathedral thinking."

You can watch her whole speech here:

This isn't the first time Thunberg has urged world leaders to act on climate change. She delivered powerful speeches at the COP24 talks in Katowice, Poland in December 2018 and at Davos this year.

MEPs decided not to invite her to address the parliament's debating chamber in February after it was proposed by the Greens. Liberal and center-right MEPs argued against it on the grounds that the spot should be reserved for politicians or officials and that a child would be too vulnerable in that environment, The Guardian reported.

MEPs responded well to Tuesday's speech, giving her a 30 second standing ovation. Individual members also thanked her after the speech, as The Parliament Magazine reported.

"I speak as a mother of two and I feel the same as you, Greta," Maltese deputy Miriam Dali said. "But when it comes to the crunch we, here, often end up backing down from our climate ambitions."

Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout also thanked her.

"I hope we all remember this day when we speak of an end to the world in July when we vote on new EC [European Commission] president and whether we really want to change our policies, phase out coal and make aviation pay," he said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This study found evidence of illegal hammerhead fins in 46 out of 46 sampling events in Hong Kong. NOAA / Teachers at Sea Program

By Jason Bittel

Authorities in Hong Kong intercepted some questionable cargo three years ago — a rather large shipment of shark fins that had originated in Panama. Shark fins are a hot commodity among some Asian communities for their use in soup, and most species are legally consumed in Hong Kong, but certain species are banned from international trade due to their extinction risk. And wouldn't you know it: this confiscated shipment contained nearly a ton of illegal hammerhead fins.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Heat waves emanate from the exhaust pipe of a city transit bus as it passes an American flag hung on the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice on April 25, 2013. David McNew / Getty Images

Air pollution rules aren't doing enough to protect Americans, finds a major new study that examined the cause of death for 4.5 million veterans, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Coldplay playing at Stade de France in Paris in July 2017. Raph_PH / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.0

Coldplay is releasing a new album on Friday, but the release will not be followed by a world tour.

Read More Show Less
Ash dieback is seen infecting a European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Bottomcraig, Scotland, UK on Aug. 10, 2016. nz_willowherb / Flickr

Scientists have discovered a genetic basis to resistance against ash tree dieback, a devastating fungal infection that is predicted to kill over half of the ash trees in the region, and it could open up new possibilities to save the species.

Read More Show Less