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Thunberg Addresses World Economic Forum: ‘Our House is On Fire’


16-year-old climate strike leader Greta Thunberg of Stockholm brought her message to 3,000 CEOs attending the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, after travelling 32 hours by train to get to the Swiss mountain resort.

“I am here to say, our house is on fire. According to the IPCC [1], we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes,” Thunberg told [2] the elite annual gathering.

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“I ask you to stand on the right side of history,” she added [4]. “I ask you to pledge to do everything in your power to push your own business or government in line with a 1.5°C world.”

On Friday, the final day of the conference, Thunberg was scheduled to join a strike by Swiss schoolchildren at Davos, The Guardian reports. Last Wednesday evening, she and a group of climate scientists camped on a mountain slope in -18°C temperatures.

As she travelled down Davos’s funicular railway from the Arctic Base Camp—while more than 30,000 students were striking [5] in Belgium—Thunberg said the rapid growth of her movement was ‘incredible’,” The Guardian states.

“There have been climate strikes, involving students and also adults, on every continent except Antarctica. It has involved tens of thousands of children,” Thunberg said. Her weekly school strike at the Swedish parliament, which began as a solo effort, now brings together hundreds of people.

“This Friday I can’t be there,” she told The Guardian’s Damian Carrington. “So I will have to do it here in Davos and send a message that this is the only thing that matters.”

Carrington writes that “missing gym class, geography, and religion each Friday is something of a sacrifice for Thunberg, who says she loves school and can’t pick a favourite subject.” Her climate work has also forced her to give up her hobbies, from theatre, song, and dance to horseback riding. But she said the work is more important, adding that parents should be supportive if their children want to join the Friday strike.

“Everyone keeps saying that the young people should be more active, and they’re so lazy, but once we do something we get criticized,” she said.

“We need to hold the older generations accountable for the mess they have created, and expect us to live with. It is not fair that we have to pay for what they have caused.”

Thunberg, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, told Carrington the condition helps her see the climate crisis more clearly.

“My brain works a bit different and so I see things in black and white,” she said. “Either we start a chain reaction with events beyond our control, or we don’t. Either we stop the emissions or we don’t. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.”