Teenage activist tells EU to 'forget Brexit' and focus on climate change

PUBLISHED: 09:22 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:22 17 April 2019

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Jean-Francois BADIAS

Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg says time is running out to halt climate change and she is urging European politicians "to panic".

The 16-year-old told EU leaders it was time to forget Brexit and to focus on the key issue facing the whole world.

Thunberg said that if politicians were serious about tackling climate change they would not spend all their time “talking about Brexit”.

She told MEPs: “I want you to act as if the house is on fire.”

“Our house is falling apart and our leaders need to start acting accordingly because at the moment they are not,” she said.

“If our house was falling apart our leaders wouldn't go on like we do today,” she said. “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.”

Her speech was met with a standing ovation, as Thunberg fought back tears to warn about rapid species extinctions, soil erosion, deforestation and the pollution of oceans.

In a reference to the international funding effort launched to rebuild the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, she urged MEPs and officials to use “cathedral thinking” to tackle climate change.

She said: “It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling.

“In other words it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible.”

She added that it was “essential” to vote in European elections.

“I'm not going to vote in the European election because I can't,” she said, because she is too young to vote in Sweden.

“Therefore it's especially important for those who actually can vote to give us that in order to speak on behalf of people like me who are going to be affected very much by this crisis.”

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Become a Supporter

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Find out more

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue


Here's our weekly pick of the upcoming Remain-focused campaign activities, talks and events nationwide.

Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy