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Climate activist Greta Thunberg has delivered a devastating speech to a packed-out auditorium in Strasbourg, France, criticising EU leaders for prioritising Brexit over climate breakdown.

The 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl, who sparked the school strike for climate movement, addressed members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and EU officials. 

Meanwhile, the global movement against climate change — spearheaded by young people — continues to escalate as members of the public increasingly take matters into their own hands. 

Take action: Educating GIrls Strengthens the Global Fight Against Climate Change

“Our house is falling apart and our leaders need to start acting accordingly because at the moment they are not,” she said in her speech, during which she began to cry while talking about the “sixth mass extinction.” 

“If our house was falling apart our leaders wouldn’t go on like you do today,” she said. “You would change almost every part of your behaviour, as you do in an emergency.

“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 continued. 

The next European parliament elections are now imminent, coming up at the end of May, and Thunberg highlighted that people her age — the people who “will be affected the most by this crisis” — aren’t allowed to vote. 

“Nor are we in a position to shape the decisions of business, politics, engineering, media, education, or science,” she continued. “Because the time it takes for us to educate ourselves to do that simply no longer exists. 

“And that is why millions of children are taking to the streets, school striking for climate to create attention for the climate crisis,” she said. “You need to listen to us, we who cannot vote. You need to vote for us. For your children and grandchildren.” 

She added: “What we are doing now can soon no longer be undone. In this election, you vote for the future living conditions for humankind." 

Her speech came at the same time as thousands of climate activists continue to shut down central London in an effort to make leaders listen to their calls for action. 

The protesters are part of a global environmental movement called Extinction Rebellion — which is calling on leaders to deliver on bringing net carbon emissions to zero by 2025. 

“We’re calling an emergency on the climate and ecological crisis and the criminal inaction of our government for not acting on this emergency,” one of the organisers, Sophie Cowen, told Global Citizen on Tuesday. 

“We’re going to stay here until the UK government comes to the table and meets our demands,” she added. 


Defend the Planet

Greta Thunberg: 3 Emergency Summits on Brexit and Not a Single One on Climate Change

By Imogen Calderwood