Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmental activist from Sweden, told a task force of US Senate Democrats on Thursday that they weren’t trying “hard enough” to tackle the climate crisis. “Sorry,” she added in a blunt call to action.
“Please save your praise. We don’t want it,” Thunberg, who appeared before the Senate’s climate change task force on Tuesday, told a group of lawmakers. “Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it because it doesn’t lead to anything.”
Thunberg was one of several young environmentalists who spoke to the lawmakers in Washington ahead of a massive global climate strike on Friday to encourage more action to tackle climate change and the global warming spurred by greenhouse gas emissions.
During her address, the Swedish teenager pulled no punches, urging the gathered senators to listen to researchers who have been ringing the alarm bells about the climate crisis for years.
“If you want advice for what you should do, invite scientists, ask scientists for their expertise,” Thunberg said, according to a report by The Guardian. “We don’t want to be heard. We want the science to be heard.”
“I know you are trying, but just not hard enough,” she added. “Sorry.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the chair of the task force and a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution, took the blunt remarks in good form, telling Thunberg he heard her message and that the chamber would “redouble our efforts” to tackle the crisis. He told the group of young activists that the world needed their “leadership,” which he said was creating a new “x-factor” in the fight to address climate change, The Associated Press reported.
“By failing to take meaningful action on climate, our leaders failed the young people of the world,” Markey wrote on Twitter later Tuesday. “A generation of leaders owes our youngest generations an apology & a commitment to finally take the bold action we’ve failed to achieve. Proud to join young climate activists today.”
Democrats are in a tough position pushing forward any major climate legislation as Republican leaders in the Senate, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have pledged to oppose any version of a Green New Deal. President Donald Trump has also pushed his administration to dramatically roll back or rescind many of the country’s environmental regulations. He has also moved to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate accord.
Thunberg is scheduled to testify in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday before an appearance at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York next week. She traveled to the United States across the Atlantic Ocean via a zero-emissions racing boat as she doesn’t fly, citing high carbon emissions associated with air travel.
The activist also met with former President Barack Obama, who called her “one of our planet’s greatest advocates” who was “unafraid to push for real action.”