Climate Inaction: Greta To World Leaders “You Have Stolen My Dreams, My Childhood With Your Empty Words”

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Greta Thunberg tells world leaders: “How dare you!”

A group of young people, led by teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, have lodged a legal complaint with the United Nations against five countries that are off-track with their emission reduction goals at Monday’s UN Climate Action Summit in New York. During her appearance at the UN Headquarters, Thunberg also gave an emotionally charged speech targeted at world leaders who she says have failed the younger generation. 

On Monday, global leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York for the Climate Action Summit. The 16-year old climate activist, alongside 15 other young people from the ages of 8 to 17, filed a legal complaint with the UN against five countries, including Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey. These countries are not currently on track to meet the carbon emission reduction goals that they agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

“You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.”

Greta Thunberg in a speech to the UN General Assembly

Their lawsuit also claims that children’s rights are being violated as stipulated in a 1989 UN Agreement. Indeed, while world leaders and politicians look on, children have been taking the lead to demand climate justice. Just days before the Summit on Friday, millions of students across the globe – from the Solomon Islands to Jakarta and Toronto – ditched their classrooms to chant slogans and stage “lie-ins” to urge for an end to fossil fuels.

While the legal complaint filed by Thunberg and her fellow activists alongside the UN does not call out any Asian countries specifically, the Asia-Pacific region is lagging behind other nations on climate action. Not only is the region most predisposed to the most destructive impacts of climate change, our planetary crisis cannot be solved without the coordination and action of major Asia-Pacific countries.

Asia must step up their efforts and take responsibility, especially as its booming population will continue to leave a massive footprint on the environment. The transition to a fossil fuel-free world must include Asian countries having a (loud) seat at the table.

Lead image courtesy of Timothy A. Clary / AFP/ Getty Images.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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