The 16-year-old who politicians queue to meet

Making change: Greta Thunberg has given up flying on planes. Instead, she travels across Europe by train or electric car.

Will they listen? Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg visited the UK this week. She gave a powerful speech in Parliament, saying that children wanted to “wake the adults up”.

What’s happening

A year ago, very few people had heard the name Greta Thunberg. Now, the teenager has become a global symbol of the fight against climate change, inspiring school strikes around the world. This week, she visited the UK to give a speech “on behalf of future generations” to politicians in Parliament.

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In August last year, Greta began skipping school on Fridays in order to protest about the Swedish government’s inaction on climate change. Now, thousands of students have joined her in countries around the world.

“We will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future,” she told MPs on Tuesday.

She explained that the world had until 2030 to make “permanent and unprecedented changes” in order to stop catastrophic climate change, based on research by the UN.

She criticised the UK for supporting new ways to use fossil fuels, such as fracking, expanding airports and building a new coal mine. This is “beyond absurd” and will be remembered “as one of the greatest failures of humankind,” she said.

Will politicians listen?

Some say…

They already have. The UK’s environment secretary Michael Gove praised Greta’s speech and agreed that “we have not done nearly enough”. He went on: “The time to act is now. The challenge could not be clearer — Greta, you have been heard.” She has also won support from Germany’s leader Angela Merkel, and politicians at the UN. Adults are waking up.

Others think…

Words are not enough, says Greta. The only way to measure her success is by looking at how much fossil fuels are still being used. Until that starts to fall — and fall quickly — then her job is not over. Perhaps one person cannot change the whole world on her own. To truly be heard, she will need many more young people to speak up alongside her.

You Decide

  1. Can one person change the world?

Activities

  1. As a class, discuss some things that need to happen to prevent climate change from getting worse. Then make your own posters encouraging people — or the Government — to get involved. Include some of the specific solutions you discussed.

Some People Say...

“I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”

Greta Thunberg

What do you think?

Word Watch

Climate change
Changes to the Earth’s weather and temperature. The current global warming is caused by human activity.
Strikes
When workers refuse to do their job in order to demand change. In this case, children are skipping school.
Parliament
The place where politicians make laws.
Unprecedented
Not seen before.
UN
United Nations, an organisation, which includes almost all of the world’s countries, founded in 1945 to tackle global issues, including climate change and human rights.
Fracking
Using large amounts of water to get natural gas from the Earth.

Subjects

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