In this post, we’ve gathered the best Greta Thunberg quotes. This is the most in-depth compilation of Greta’s quotes you’ll find on the internet.
Greta tells like it is. Clearly, bluntly, with passion. The reality of climate change. What the science is telling us and what our leaders are doing about it (or rather not doing.)
Many of these lines have come from some powerful speeches Greta has given. From climate rallies to the main seats of power of the Western World.
We’ve organised Greta’s best quotes by the key speeches she’s given. And along with the quotes, we’ve also provided a link to her whole speech as text (transcript) and as video.
(In another post we’ve also put together a compilation of the best Greta Thunberg speeches as videos.)
We’ve covered the period of her rise as a world climate leader from late 2018, 2019, and early 2020. It’s worth remembering that when Greta gave these speeches she was only 15 and then 16 years old.
To be so on top of the science, to be so passionate, and to be so articulate at such a young age is striking. Plus the fact she has presented and spoken these words to some of the world’s most powerful people and legislatures makes it even more remarkable. The future generation telling today’s generation to get their act together.
Climate Strike Concert, Stockholm, September 8, 2018
Best Greta Thunberg quotes from her speech ‘Our Lives are in Your Hands’:
“If people knew what a nightmare scenario we will face if we don’t keep global warming below 2 °C, they wouldn’t need to ask me why I’m on school strike outside parliament. If everyone knew how serious the situation is and how little is actually being done, everyone would come and sit down beside us.”
“Our school strike has nothing to do with party politics. Because the climate and the biosphere don’t care about our politics and our empty words for a single second. They only care about what we actually do.”
“To all of you who choose to look the other way every day because you seem more frightened of the changes that can prevent catastrophic climate change than the catastrophic climate change itself. Your silence is worst of all.”
“A lot of people say that Sweden is a small country, that it doesn’t matter what we do. But I think that if a few girls can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
Climate March, Stockholm, September 13, 2018
Greta Thunberg climate speech quotes – ‘The Grown-Ups Have Failed Us’:
“Every Friday we will sit outside the Swedish parliament until Sweden is in line with the Paris Agreement.”
“Time is much shorter than we think. Failure means disaster. The changes required are enormous and we must all contribute in every part of our daily life. Especially us in the rich countries where no nation is doing nearly enough.”
“The grown-ups have failed us. And since most of them including the press and politicians keep ignoring the situation we must take action into our own hands. Starting today. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is needed.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
Extinction Rebellion Rally, London, October 31, 2018
Best Greta quotes from her speech ‘Almost Everything is Black and White’:
“They keep saying that climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all. And yet they just carry on like before. If the emissions have to stop then we must stop the emissions. To me, that is black or white.”
“Why are we not reducing our emissions? Why are they, in fact, still increasing? Are we knowingly causing a mass extinction? Are we evil? No, of course not. People keep doing what they do because the vast majority doesn’t have a clue about the consequences of our everyday life. And they don’t know the rapid changes required.”
“When you think about “the future”, you don’t think beyond the year 2050. By then I will not even have lived half of my life. What happens next? The year 2078 I will celebrate my 75th birthday. What we do or don’t do, right now, will affect my entire life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren.”
“Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ”solve the climate crisis”. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”
“Why should I be studying for a future when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts within the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of that same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society?”
“Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
TED Talk, Stockholm, November 24, 2018
Quotes from Greta’s TED Talk ‘Save the World by Changing the Rules’:
“When I was 8 years old I remember thinking it was very strange that humans could be capable of changing the Earth’s climate. Because if we were and if it was really happening we wouldn’t be talking about anything else. But no one ever talked about it.”
“If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn’t it made illegal? To me that did not add up.”
“For those of us who are on the spectrum, almost everything is black or white. When it comes to the sustainability crisis, everyone keeps saying that climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all. And yet they just carry on like before. I don’t understand that, because if the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. To me that is black or white. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.”
“Furthermore hardly anyone speaks about the fact that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. With up to 200 species going extinct every single day. That the extinction rate is today between 1000 and 10,000 times higher than what is seen as normal.”
“Nor does anyone ever speak about the aspect of equity or climate justice, clearly stated in the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale. That means rich countries need to get down to zero emissions within 6 to 12 years. And that is so people in poorer countries can have a chance to heighten the standard of living by building some of the infrastructure that we have already built, such as roads, schools, hospitals, clean drinking water, electricity and so on.”
“How can we expect countries like India or Nigeria to care about the climate crisis if we who already have everything don’t care even a second about it, or about our commitments to the Paris agreement.”
“We’ve had 30 years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas and I’m sorry but it doesn’t work. Because if it would have, emissions would have gone down by now. They haven’t. And yes, we do need hope, of course, we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.”
Read Greta’s talk transcript.
Watch Greta’s talk video.
UN Climate Conference, Katowice, December 3, 2018
Greta Thunberg speech quotes from ‘Our Political Leaders Have Failed Us’:
“For 25 years countless people have stood in front of the United Nations climate conferences, asking our nations’ leaders to stop the emissions. But, clearly, this has not worked since the emissions just continue to rise. So I will not ask them anything. Instead, I will ask the media to start treating the crisis as a crisis. Instead, I will ask the people around the world to realize that our political leaders have failed us.”
“No one ever speaks about the aspect of equity clearly stated everywhere in the Paris Agreement – which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale. That means rich countries like mine need to get down to zero emissions within 6–12 years so that people in poorer countries can heighten their standard of living by building some of the infrastructure we have already built – such as hospitals, electricity and clean drinking water. Because how can we expect countries like India, Colombia or Nigeria to care about the climate crisis if we, who already have everything, don’t care even a second about our actual commitments to the Paris Agreement?”
“Why should I be studying for a future when no one is doing anything to save that future?”
“What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts clearly mean nothing to our society?”
“Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed.”
“We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not.”
“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
UN Climate Conference, Katowice, December 12, 2018
The best Greta Thunberg quotes from her speech ‘Unpopular’:
“You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess. Even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.”
“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.”
“We have to speak clearly. No matter how uncomfortable that may be.”
“Our civilization is being sacrificed so a very small number of people can continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury.”
“The year 2078 I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.”
“You say you love your children above all else and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
“Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible there is no hope.”
“We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”
“If solutions within this system are so impossible to find then maybe we should change the system itself.”
“We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not.”
Watch Greta’s speech as video.
Challenge to World Economic Forum, January 22, 2019
Greta Thunberg quotes from her challenge ‘Prove Me Wrong’:
“Some people say that we are not doing enough to fight climate change. But that is not true. Because to “not do enough” you have to do something. And the truth is we are basically not doing anything.”
“Some people – some companies and some decision-makers in particular – have known what priceless values they are sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. I want to challenge those companies and those decision-makers into real and bold climate action. To set their economic goals aside and to safeguard the future living conditions for humankind.”
“I ask you to stand on the right side of history.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
World Economic Forum, Davos, January 25, 2019
Best Greta Thunberg quotes from her speech ‘Our House is on Fire’:
“Our house is on fire. I am here to say our house is on fire. According to the IPCC we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes.”
“At places like Davos people like to tell success stories but their financial success has come with an unthinkable price tag.”
“On climate change we have to acknowledge that we have failed. All political movements in their present form have done so. And the media has failed to create broad public awareness. But Homo sapiens have not yet failed.”
“We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. Now is not the time for speaking politely. Now is the time to speak clearly.”
“Solving the climate crisis is the greatest, most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced.”
“The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emission of greenhouse gases.”
“Some say that we should not engage in activism, instead we should leave everything to our politicians and just vote for change instead. But what do we do when there is no political will? What do we do when the politics needed are nowhere in sight?”
“People are not aware that there is such a thing as a carbon budget, and just how incredibly small that remaining carbon budget is. That needs to change today. No other current challenge can match the importance of establishing a wide public awareness and understanding of our rapidly disappearing carbon budgets that should and must become a new global currency in the very heart of future and present economics.”
“The bigger your carbon footprint is, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform the bigger your responsibility.”
“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
Facebook, February 2, 2019
Quotes from Greta’s Facebook post ‘I’m Too Young to do This’:
(A response to criticism of her. Including claims she was being manipulated.)
“Recently I’ve seen many rumors circulating about me and enormous amounts of hate. This is no surprise to me. I know that since most people are not aware of the full meaning of the climate crisis (which is understandable since it has never been treated as a crisis), a school strike for the climate would seem very strange to people in general.”
“Many people love to spread rumors saying I have people ”behind me” or that I’m being ”paid” or ”used” to do what I’m doing. But there is no one ”behind” me except for myself. My parents were as far from climate activists as possible before I made them aware of the situation. I am not part of any organization. I sometimes support and cooperate with several NGOs that work with the climate and environment. But I am absolutely independent and I only represent myself.”
“Yes, I write my own speeches. But since I know that what I say is going to reach many, many people I often ask for input. I have a few scientists I frequently ask for help on how to express certain complicated matters. I want everything to be absolutely correct so that I don’t spread incorrect facts or things that can be misunderstood.”
“Some people mock me for my diagnosis. But Aspergers is not a disease, it’s a gift.”
“People say that since I have Aspergers I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this. Because if I would have been ”normal” and social I would have organized myself in an organisation, or started an organisation by myself. But since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead. I was so frustrated that nothing was being done about the climate crisis I felt like I had to do something, anything. And sometimes NOT doing things – like just sitting down outside the parliament – speaks much louder than doing things.”
“There is one complaint that I ”sound and write like an adult”. And to that I can only say: don’t you think that a 16-year old can speak for herself?”
“There’s some people who say that I oversimplify things. For example when I say that “the climate crisis is a black and white issue”, ”we need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases” and ”I want you to panic”. But that I only say because it’s true. Yes, the climate crisis is the most complex issue that we have ever faced and it’s going to take everything from our part to ”stop it”. But the solution is black and white; we need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. Because either we limit the warming to 1,5 degrees C over pre-industrial levels, or we don’t. Either we reach a tipping point where we start a chain reaction with events way beyond human control, or we don’t. Either we go on as a civilization, or we don’t.”
“When I say I want you to panic I mean that we need to treat the crisis as a crisis. When your house is on fire you don’t sit down and talk about how nice you can rebuild it once you put out the fire. If your house is on fire you run outside and make sure that everyone is out while you call the fire department. That requires some level of panic.”
“There is one other argument I can’t do anything about. The fact that I’m ”just a child and we shouldn’t be listening to children.” But that is easily fixed – just start to listen to the rock-solid science instead. Because if everyone listened to the scientists and the facts I constantly refer to – then no one would have to listen to me or any of the other hundreds of thousands of school children on strike for the climate across the world. Then we could all go back to school.”
“I am just a messenger and yet I get all this hate.”
“I am not saying anything new, I am just saying what scientists have repeatedly said for decades.”
“I agree with you, I’m too young to do this. We children shouldn’t have to do this. But since almost no one is doing anything, and our very future is at risk, we feel like we have to continue.”
European Economic and Social Committee, Brussels, February 21, 2019
Best Greta quotes from ‘You’re Acting Like Spoiled Irresponsible Children’:
“We know most politicians don’t want to talk to us. Good, we don’t want to talk to them either. We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them, because we are just repeating what they are saying and have been saying for decades.”
“We want you to follow the Paris agreement and the IPCC reports. We don’t have any other manifests or demands. Unite behind the science that is our demand.”
“When many politicians talk about the school strike for the climate, they talk about almost anything except for the climate crisis.”
“Many people are trying to make the school strikes a question of whether we are promoting truancy or whether we should go back to school or not. They make up all sorts of conspiracies and call us puppets who cannot think for ourselves. They are desperately trying to remove the focus from the climate crisis and change the subject. They don’t want to talk about it because they know they cannot win this fight.”
“We need a whole new way of thinking. The political system you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win. That must come to an end. We must stop competing with each other. We need to cooperate and work together and share the resources of the planet in a fair way. We need to start living within the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species. We need to protect the biosphere, the air, the oceans, the soil, the forests.”
“We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change because if we fail to do so then all our achievements and progress have been for nothing. All that will remain of our political leaders’ legacy will be the greatest failure in human history.”
“Some people say that we are fighting for our future, but that is not true. We are fighting for everyone’s future.”
“I’m sorry but saying everything will be alright while continuing to do nothing at is not hopeful to us. In fact, it’s the opposite of hope. Yet this is exactly what you keep doing.”
“If you still say we are wasting valuable lesson time then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction.”
“And since our time is running out we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess and we will not stop until we are done.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
Goldene Kamera Award, Berlin, March 30, 2019
Greta Thunberg quote on climate change from her speech ‘A Strange World’:
“We live in a strange world:
Where all the united science tells us that we are about 11 years away from setting off an irreversible chain reaction way beyond human control that will probably be the end of our civilization as we know it.
Where children must sacrifice their own education in order to protest against the destruction of their future.
Where the people who have contributed the least to this crisis are the ones who are going to be affected the most.
Where politicians say it’s too expensive to save the world while spending trillions of euros subsidizing fossil fuels.
Where no one dares to look beyond our current political systems even though it’s clear the answers we seek will not be found within the politics of today.
Where some people seem to be more concerned about the presence in school of some children than the future of humankind.
Where everyone can choose their own reality and buy their own truth.
Where our survival is depending on a small, rapidly disappearing carbon budget. And hardly anyone even knows it exists.
Where we think we can buy or build our way out of a crisis that has been created by buying and building things.
Where a football game or a film gala gets more media attention than the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.
Where celebrities, film and pop-stars who have stood up against all sorts of injustices will not stand up for our environment and for climate justice because that would impact on their right to fly around the world visiting their favorite restaurants, beaches and yoga retreats.
Avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown is to do the seemingly impossible. But that is what we have to do.
We live in a strange world. But it’s the world my generation has been handed. It’s the only world we’ve got.
We are now standing at a crossroads in history. We are failing but we have not yet failed. We can still fix this. It’s up to us.”
Watch Greta’s speech as video.
European Parliament, Strasbourg, April 16, 2019
Best Greta Thunberg quotes from her speech ‘Cathedral Thinking’:
“We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. The extinction rate is up to ten thousand times faster than what is considered normal – with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day. Erosion of fertile topsoil, deforestation of our great forests, toxic air pollution, loss of insects and wildlife, the acidification of our oceans – these are all disastrous trends being accelerated by a way of life that we, here in our financially-fortunate part of the world, see as our right to simply carry on.”
“But hardly anyone knows about these catastrophes – or understand how they are just the first few symptoms of climate and ecological breakdown. Because how could they? They have not been told. Or more importantly: they have not been told by the right people – and in the right way.”
“Everyone and everything has to change so why waste precious time arguing about what and who needs to change first?”
“To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible.”
“It’s okay if you refuse to listen to me. I am after all just a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Sweden. But you cannot ignore the scientists or the science.”
“Unite behind the science – make the best available science the heart of politics and democracy.”
“Our civilization is so fragile. It is like a castle built in the sand. The facade is so beautiful. But the foundations are far from solid.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
UK Parliament, London, April 23, 2019
Best Greta Thunberg quotes from her speech ‘Can You Hear Me?’:
“I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.”
“Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future.”
“You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us.”
“Around the year 2030 we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control. That is unless, in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%. And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, these calculations do not include unforeseen tipping points and feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing arctic permafrost. Nor do these scientific calculations include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Nor the aspect of equity – or climate justice – clearly stated throughout the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale. We must also bear in mind that these are just calculations. Estimations. That means these “points of no return” may occur a bit sooner or later than 2030. No one can know for sure. We can, however, be certain that they will occur approximately in these time frames because these calculations are not opinions or wild guesses. These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC. Did you hear what I just said? Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.”
“When I have been traveling around to speak in different countries, I am always offered help to write about the specific climate policies in specific countries. But that is not really necessary. Because the basic problem is the same everywhere. And the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.”
“Perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades or less. And by “stop” I mean net-zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics.”
“The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual.”
“We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases.”
“We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.”
“The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.”
“You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before.”
“Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.
“I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe.”
“Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today.”
“We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us and tell us that you “really admire what we do”. We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
R20 Austrian World Summit, Vienna, May 28, 2019
Best Greta quotes from ‘The Easiest Solution is Right in Front of You’:
“We need to change the way we treat the climate crisis. We need to change the way we speak about the climate crisis. And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.”
“My number one experience is people in general have no clue. Many of us know something is wrong – that the planet is warming because of increased greenhouse gases, but we don’t know the exact consequences of that.”
“The vast majority know much less than we think. This should be no surprise. We have never been shown the graphs which show how much the CO2 emissions need to be reduced for us to stay below the 1.5 degree limit. We have never been told the meaning of the aspect of equity in the Paris Agreement and why it’s so important. We have never been taught about feedback loops or tipping points or what a runaway greenhouse effect is.”
“Most of us don’t know any of the basic facts – because how could we? We have not been told. Or more importantly, we have never been told by the right people.”
“We are social animals. We are naturally drawn to our leaders. We children are not leaders nor are the scientists, unfortunately. But many of you here today are. Presidents, celebrities, politicians, CEOs and journalists. People listen to you. And therefore you have enormous responsibility. And let’s be honest, this is a responsibility most of you have failed to take.”
“This is not primarily an opportunity to create new green jobs, new businesses or green economic growth. This is above all an emergency and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.”
“When I first heard about the climate and ecological breakdown I actually didn’t believe it could be happening. Because how could it be? How could we be facing an existential crisis that would threaten our very survival, and yet it wasn’t our first priority? If there really was a crisis this big, then we would rarely talk about anything else. As soon as you turned on the TV, everything would be about that. Headlines, radio, newspapers. You would almost never read or hear about anything else.”
“Politicians one second say that ‘climate change is the most important topic, we are going to do everything we can to stop it.’ And the next second they want to expand airports, build new coal power plants and motorways and then fly off in a private jet to attend a meeting on the other side of the world. That is not how you act in a crisis.”
“As long as you, the leaders, act like everything is fine and you have things under control, people won’t understand that we are in an emergency.”
“We need to change practically everything. We need a whole new way of thinking.”
“The biggest source of hope and easiest solution is right in front of you and has been all along. It is us people, and the fact we don’t know.”
“We are not ruining the biosphere and future living conditions for all species because we are evil. We are simply not aware.”
“We must acknowledge we do not have the situation under control and we don’t have all the solutions yet.”
“In the words of author Alex Steffen ‘winning slowly is the same as losing.’ The longer we wait the harder it will be to turn this around.”
“For too long the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything to stop climate and ecological breakdown. They have gotten away with stealing our future and selling it for profit. But we young people are waking up. And we promise we will not let you get away with it anymore.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
Brilliant Minds Conference, Stockholm, June 13, 2019
Best Greta Thunberg’s quotes from her speech ‘You are the Role Models’:
“If we are to stay below the 1.5 degrees of warming limits we need to change almost everything. We need to start living within the planetary boundaries. This will be a drastic change for many but not for most – because most of the world’s population is already living within the planetary boundaries. It is a minority who are not.”
“The richest 10 percent of the world’s population emits about half of our greenhouse gas emissions. The richest one percent emits more than the poorest 50 percent.”
“It is not people in countries like Mozambique, Bangladesh, or Colombia who are the most responsible for this crisis. It is mostly down to people like you here in the audience: entrepreneurs, celebrities, politicians, business leaders—people who have a lot of power. People who consume enormous amounts of stuff, who often fly around the world, sometimes in private jets. Your individual carbon footprints are in some cases the equivalent of whole villages.”
“But the worst part is you are normalizing this extreme lifestyle. People look up to you. You are the role models. You are setting the standards. People aspire to be like you.”
“I know we need a system change rather than individual change, but you cannot have one without the other. If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. No system change can come without pressure from large groups of individuals.”
“You are not ruining the biosphere and future living conditions for all species because you are evil. At least I hope not. I know that almost every one of you is simply uninformed, just like the rest of the world’s population.”
“I know you didn’t travel here to see a 16-year-old girl who says strange and uncomfortable things. But you know what? We need to dare to be uncomfortable. We need to be brave enough to say and do things that may not increase our profits or our popularity.”
“Even though we need to embrace every bit of new clean technology, we can no longer look away from the obvious fact we also need to change our behaviour—and some more than others.”
“If you regularly fly around the world, eat meat and dairy, and are living a high-carbon lifestyle, that means you have used up countless people’s remaining carbon budgets. Carbon budgets that they will need in their everyday life for generations to come. And if that wasn’t enough, those whose carbon budgets we are stealing are the ones least responsible and the ones who are going to be affected the most by this crisis.”
“Everyone and everything needs to change. But the bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. To make the change required, we need role models and leaders—people like you.”
“I’m certain most of you will have the courage, the wisdom, and the common sense to take a few steps back. To see the full picture. To make the sacrifices that are necessary and to become the leaders we need you to be. The question is: will you do it on time? Future generations are counting on you. Don’t let us down.”
French National Assembly, Paris, July 23, 2019
Greta Thunberg quotes from ‘You Can’t Simple Make Up Your Own Facts’:
“I have some good news and some bad news regarding the climate emergency. I will start with the good news. The world will not end in 11 years. The bad news, however, is that around the year 2030, if we continue with business as usual, we will likely be in a position where we may pass a number of tipping points. And then we might no longer be able to undo the irreversible climate breakdown.”
“A lot of people, a lot of politicians, business leaders, journalists say they don’t agree with what we are saying. They say we children are exaggerating, that we are alarmists. To answer this I would like to refer to page 108, chapter 2 in the latest IPCC report. There you will find all our “opinions” summarized because there you will find a remaining carbon dioxide budget.”
“Not once, not one single time have I heard any politician, journalist or business leader even mention these numbers. It’s almost like you don’t even know they exist, as if you haven’t even read the latest IPCC reports on which the future of our civilization is depending.”
“Maybe you are simply not mature enough to tell it like it is. Because even that burden you leave to us children. We become the bad guys who have to tell people these uncomfortable things because no one else wants or dares to. And just for quoting and acting on these numbers, these scientific facts, we receive unimaginable amounts of hate and threats.”
“What I really would like to ask all of those who question our so-called “opinions” or think we are extreme: Do you have a different budget for at least a reasonable chance of staying below the 1.5 degrees of warming limit? Is there another intergovernmental panel on climate change? Is there a secret Paris agreement that we don’t know about? Because these are the numbers that count. This is the current best available science. You can’t simply make up your own facts just because you don’t like what you hear.”
“Once you realize how painfully small the size of our remaining carbon dioxide budget is, once you realize how fast it is disappearing, once you realize that basically nothing is being done about it, and once you realize that almost no one is even aware of the fact that carbon dioxide budgets even exist, then tell me what exactly do you do? How do we do it without sounding alarmist?”
“The science is clear and all we children are doing is communicating and acting on that united science.”
“I believe the biggest danger is not our inaction. The real danger is when companies and politicians are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”
“Some people have chosen not to listen to us, and that is fine, we are after all just children. You don’t have to listen to us, but you do have to listen to the united science, the scientists.”
Watch Greta’s speech video
U.S. Congress, Washington DC, September 18, 2019
Greta quotes from ‘Wherever I Go I Seem to be Surrounded by Fairy Tales’:
“I have a dream: that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences – as you would in an emergency – and take the measures required to safeguard the conditions for a dignified life for everybody on earth. Because then – we millions of school striking youth – could go back to school.”
“I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is.”
“But this is not the time and place for dreams. This is the time to wake up. This is the moment in history when we need to be wide awake.”
“Wherever I go I seem to be surrounded by fairytales. Business leaders, elected officials all across the political spectrum spending their time making up and telling bedtime stories that soothe us, that make us go back to sleep. These are “feel-good” stories about how we are going to fix everything. How wonderful everything is going to be when we have “solved” everything. But the problem we are facing is not that we lack the ability to dream or imagine a better world. The problem now is that we need to wake up. It’s time to face the reality, the facts, the science.”
“Science doesn’t mainly speak of “great opportunities to create the society we always wanted”. It tells of unspoken human sufferings, which will get worse and worse the longer we delay action – unless we start to act now. And yes, of course, a sustainable transformed world will include lots of new benefits. But you have to understand. This is not primarily an opportunity to create new green jobs, new businesses or green economic growth. This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. We need to treat it accordingly so that people can understand and grasp the urgency. Because you cannot solve a crisis without treating it as one. Stop telling people that everything will be fine when in fact, as it looks now, it won’t be very fine. This is not something you can package and sell or ”like” on social media. Stop pretending that you, your business idea, your political party or plan will solve everything. We must realise that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Far from it. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things.”
“Changing one disastrous energy source for a slightly less disastrous one is not progress. Exporting our emissions overseas is not reducing our emissions. Creative accounting will not help us. In fact, it’s the very heart of the problem.”
“I guess hardly any of you have heard that there is a 50 percent chance of staying below a 1.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. Would anyone of you step onto a plane if you knew it had more than a 50 percent chance of crashing? More to the point: would you put your children on that flight?”
“Why is it so important to stay below the 1.5 degree limit? Because that is what the united science calls for to avoid destabilising the climate so that we stay clear of setting off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control. Even at 1 degree of warming, we are seeing an unacceptable loss of life and livelihoods.”
“With today’s emissions levels our remaining carbon budget is gone within less than 8 and a half years. These numbers are not my opinions. They aren’t anyone’s opinions or political views. This is the current best available science. Though a great number of scientists suggest even these figures are too moderate, these are the ones that have been accepted by all nations through the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.).”
“We had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit on 1 January 2018 to have a 67 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise. Now that figure is already down to less than 360 gigatons. These numbers are very uncomfortable. But people have the right to know. And the vast majority of us have no idea these numbers even exist. In fact, not even the journalists I meet seem to know that they even exist. Not to mention the politicians. And yet they all seem so certain that their political plan will solve the entire crisis.”
“No matter how political the background to this crisis may be, we must not allow this to continue to be a partisan political question. The climate and ecological crisis are beyond party politics.”
“Our main enemy right now is not our political opponents. Our main enemy is physics. And we cannot make “deals” with physics.”
“You must not gamble your children’s future on the flip of a coin. Instead, you must unite behind the science. You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up can never ever be an option.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
Global Climate Strike, New York City, September 20, 2019
Quotes from Greta’s speech in NYC ‘The Inaction is the Same Everywhere’:
“Everywhere I’ve been the situation is the same. The people in power – their beautiful words are the same. The number of politicians and celebrities that want to take selfies with us are the same. Their empty promises are the same. And the inaction is the same.”
“Nowhere have I found anyone in power who dares to tell it like it is. No matter where you are, even that burden they leave to us, us teenagers, us children.”
“We have not taken to the streets for the adults and politicians to take selfies with us and tell us that they really admire what we do. We are doing this to wake the leaders up. We are doing this to get them to act.”
“We deserve a safe future. We demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?”
“We are not just some young people skipping school. Or some adults not going to work. We are a wave of change.”
“We will make those most responsible for this crisis accountable.”
“If you belong to that small group of people who feel threatened by us then we have some bad news for you. This is only the beginning. Change is coming whether they like it or not.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
UN Climate Summit, New York City, 23 September 2019
Best Greta Thunberg quotes from her speech ‘The World is Waking Up’:
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”
“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius] and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.”
“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions?”
“You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.
“You are failing us. But young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you.”
“The world is waking up. Change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
Global Climate Strike, Montreal, September 27, 2019
Greta speech quotes from ‘We are the Change and Change is Coming’:
“They say we shouldn’t worry, that we should look forward to a bright future. But they forget that, if they had done their job, we wouldn’t need to worry. If they had started acting in time, then this crisis wouldn’t be the crisis it is today. And we promise, once they start taking the responsibility and do their job, we will stop worrying and go back to school and work.”
“They say, “Let children be children.” We agree. Let us be children. Do your part. Communicate these kinds of numbers instead of leaving that responsibility to us. Then we can go back to “being children.”
“Some would say we are wasting lesson time. We say we are changing the world. So that when we are older, we will be able to look our children in the eyes and say we did everything we could back then.”
“We will never stop fighting for a living planet and for a safe future — for our future.”
Watch Greta’s speech video
COP25 United Nations Climate Conference, Madrid, December 11, 2019
Greta Thunberg quotes from her speech ‘Real Action’:
“Richer countries need to do their fair share and get down to real zero emissions much faster and then help poorer countries do the same, so people in less fortunate parts of the world can raise their living standards.”
“Since the Paris Agreement, global banks have invested 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars in fossil fuels. One hundred companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. The G20 countries account for almost 80% of total emissions. The richest 10% of the world’s population produce half of our CO2 emissions, while the poorest 50% account for just one tenth. We indeed have some work to do, but some more than others.”
“Recently, a handful of rich countries pledged to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by so-and-so many percent by this or that date or to become climate neutral or net zero in so-and-so many years. This may sound impressive at first glance, but even though the intentions may be good, this is not leadership. This is misleading because most of these pledges do not include aviation, shipping, and imported and exported goods and consumption. They do, however, include the possibility of countries offseting their emissions elsewhere.”
“Countries are finding clever ways around having to take real action. Like double-counting emissions reductions and moving their emissions overseas.”
“The danger is when politicians and CEOs make it look like real action is happening when in fact almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
World Economic Forum, Davos, January 21, 2020
Greta Thunberg speech quotes from ‘Act As If You Loved Your Children’:
“We don’t need a low carbon economy, we don’t need to lower emissions. Our emissions have to stop if we are to have a chance of staying below the 1.5 degree target.”
“The fact that the USA is leaving the Paris Accord seems to outrage and worry everyone and it should, but the fact that we are all about to fail the commitments signed up for in the Paris Agreement doesn’t seem to bother the people in power even the least.”
“When we children tell you to panic, we’re not telling you to go on like before. We’re not telling you to rely on technologies that don’t even exist today at scale and that science says perhaps never will. We’re not telling you to keep talking about reaching net-zero emissions or carbon neutrality by cheating and fiddling around with numbers. We’re not telling you to offset your emissions by just paying someone else to plant trees in places like Africa, while at the same time forests like the Amazon are being slaughtered at an infinitely higher rate.”
“We are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else.”
Watch Greta’s speech video.
A book with more Greta Thunberg quotes
There’s a small book by Greta that compiles her speeches and of course, contains more pearls of wisdom. If you’re keen you can …
It’s not long and worth a read or a listen. The audiobook read by Greta is great.
The importance of Greta Thunberg’s quotes
Such powerful speeches from someone so young has helped the world think more clearly about the world our kids and grandkids will inherit. They have starkly reminded those with the power to make things better in the present to take responsibility for that future.
What’s possibly most remarkable is that Greta Thunberg’s speeches are grounded in the science of climate change. And her persistent message is to remind politicians, business leaders, journalists and others to listen to the science. And of course act on it.
If we’ve missed any of the best Greta Thunberg quotes please let us know in the comments.
This post as part of our series on the ‘Best Environmental Quotes from the World’s Environmental Leaders’. Here you’ll find more inspirational words of wisdom on the environment and sustainability.