Thunberg to leaders: You’ve failed us on climate

Swedish teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg has told a gathering of world leaders they have failed to act on climate change.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she told a United Nations (UN) climate summit in New York.

About 60 world leaders are taking part in the one-day meeting organised by UN Secretary General António Guterres.

He earlier said countries could only speak at the summit if they came with action plans to cut carbon emissions.

US President Donald Trump, a climate change skeptic, had not been expected at the meeting – but he was seen in the audience.

Brazil and Saudi Arabia are among the countries staying away.

In an emotional speech, she said: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” the 16-year-old said.

And she urged world leaders to act urgently, saying: “We will be watching you.”

The summit comes days after several million people took part in a global climate strike led by youth activists.

Ahead of the meeting, scientists warned the signs and impacts of global warming were speeding up.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 had grown by 20% per cent compared with the previous five years.

“We should listen to the loud cry coming from the schoolchildren,” said Professor Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, and professor of meteorology at the University of Reading.

“There is an emergency – one for action in both rapidly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions towards zero and adapting to the inevitable changes in climate,” he said.

As the dangers of climate heating become ever more apparent, so does the absence of collective will to tackle the issue.

In 2015 in Paris, all the world’s leaders sounded their determination to curb the emissions that were heating the climate.

Today will see a host of initiatives from businesses and small and medium-sized nations. -BBC

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