Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg bookended the United Nations General Assembly with massive global protests aiming to force world leaders to grapple with the growing climate crisis.
Millions of people across generations in hundreds of countries came out for Thunberg’s Fridays for Future marches to carry signs and join chants, show solidarity and continue growing the movement.
The youth-led call to action reverberated throughout the UN’s multi-day gathering.
Some world leaders spoke bluntly about the climate crisis, echoing an impassioned speech by Thunberg during the UN’s Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. Others offered policy commitments and vowed to do better. Many failed to live up to the challenge.
While the event suggested that countries have yet to summon the political courage to phase out fossil fuels — the primary driver of climate change — the marches surrounding the event signalled that a turning point could be on the horizon.
As Thunberg said at the climate summit: “We will not let you get away with this."
She added: "Right here, right now, is where we draw the line. The world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not.”
Some leaders are waking up to the climate crisis and they showed their willingness to act.
Here are eight of the best quotes concerning climate change from world leaders at UNGA. With the clock ticking, let's hope their actions in the coming months reflect the urgency of their words.
1. “We must reverse the nefarious consequences of global warming, which is a powerful threat to our planet and to humanity,” said José Condugua António Pacheco, the foreign minister of Mozambique.
2. “Capitalism is unsustainable. Its irrational and unsustainable production and consumption patterns and the growing and unjust concentration of wealth are the main threat against the ecological balance of the planet. There would be no sustainable development without social justice,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, state secretary of the Holy See.
3. “The small island countries…are on the frontline of being swallowed into an abyss, created initially by human activity and increasingly by inaction. Our vulnerabilities as states on the frontline are profound,” said Hubert Minnis, prime minister of the Bahamas.
4. “Sea level rise is not only about an existential threat to our small and low-lying island. Climate change also threatens an economic Armageddon if the tuna fishery disappears,” said Nauru’s president Lionel Aingimea.
5. “Never has science around the world been so abundant to meet the challenges that we have,” said Emmanuel Macron, president of France.
6. "I hope we all understand the need to move from solemn declarations to concrete actions and initiatives that are commensurate to the level of present and future challenges,” said Bocchit Edmond, the minister for foreign affairs of Haiti.
7. “Climate change is a global consensus. We need to respond to this challenge with concerted global efforts according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” said Wang Yi, the state councilor and foreign minister of China.
8. “I feel that there is a lack of seriousness. Perhaps world leaders do not realize the urgency of the situation. We have a lot of ideas, but as someone said, ‘ideas without funding is mere hallucination,’” said Imran Khan, prime minister of Pakistan.