Ahead of a new global climate strike, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg told US politicians that they're not doing enough to combat climate change, followed by a meeting with former US president Barack Obama.
"I know you are trying, but just not hard enough. Sorry," said the climate activist, who's inspired young people across the world to protest against the impact of global warming. She also told the Senate climate task force in Washington DC to "save your praise".
"Don't invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it," she said.
The audience laughed. Supporters broke into applause. Senator Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who co-sponsored the Green New Deal and leads the Senate task force, was perhaps surprised by her bluntness. But he smiled.
The Green New Deal is a 14-page resolution that calls for a “10-year national mobilization” that would eliminate the nation’s emissions in one decade. Scientists say limiting warming to 1.5C would require cutting manmade carbon levels by 45% by 2030 and reaching net zero around 2050.
The 16-year-old was one of several young activists from around the world invited to address the Senate gathering during two days of action and speeches. Their aim is to increase support among US lawmakers for the urgent action on climate change, which Greta and others are campaigning for
Following her speech, Thunberg met with former President Barack Obama, who shared a photo and a few details of their meeting on social media.
"Just 16, @GretaThunberg is already one of our planet's greatest advocates," Obama tweeted after his meeting with Thunberg. "Recognizing that her generation will bear the brunt of climate change, she's unafraid to push for real action."
Video of the meeting between Thunberg and Obama released by the Obama Foundation shows the former President asking Thunberg about recent climate strikes she participated in while she visited New York and Washington.
Thunberg arrived in the US after crossing the Atlantic on a solar-powered yacht. She rose to international prominence after launching “Fridays for Future”: student-led strikes that have spread to 135 countries. She has already been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and has become a symbol for a "lost generation": today's children, forced to live in a world damned by a climate change they didn't cause.
Global climate strike
The meetings and speeches in Washington were intended to raise awareness ahead of a global climate strike on Friday in which students and workers will walk out of schools and offices to pressure their governments to act as world leaders gather in New York for the annual United Nations summit.
There will be 4,638 events in 139 countries, according to Thunberg. A further strike is planned for the following Friday. In some places, students and public and private workers are being actively encouraged to walk out of school and work.
The strikes also bookend two important summits happening at the United Nations: The Youth Climate Summit, taking place on September 21, and the Climate Action Summit, taking place on September 23.
The summit on the 23rd is a meeting ahead of the UN General Assembly, where countries are expected to ramp up their ambitions to curb greenhouse gases under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.