Teen activist to lawmakers: Forget praise, work on climate

"This is not about us. This is not about youth activists," she said. "We don't want to be heard. We want the science to be heard."

Associated Press
September 17, 2019 - 2:50 pm

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, center, who has called on world leaders to step up their efforts against global warming, listens to remarks by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, at a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress hailed Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg as a "superpower" for her work to spark a worldwide, youth-driven push to fight climate change.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said the 16-year-old Thunberg and other young activists bring "moral clarity" to the fight against global warming.

Thunberg was not impressed.

At a Senate forum Tuesday, she told Markey and other Democrats to "save your praise," adding that she and other activists "don't want it," especially if officials intend to talk about climate change "without doing anything about it."

Thunberg gained international attention by inspiring a series of protests and school strikes, including one set for Friday. Activists are calling for immediate action from the world's governments to halt global warming, reduce fossil fuel consumption and avert environmental catastrophe.

Thunberg's activism has drawn a passionate following of children essentially challenging their elders to take action.

"I know you're trying," she told Democratic senators at an invitation-only forum, "but just not hard enough. Sorry."

Instead of listening to her and other teenagers, lawmakers should invite scientists for their expertise on ways to slow a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, Thunberg said.

"This is not about us. This is not about youth activists," she said. "We don't want to be heard. We want the science to be heard."

Despite her request, lawmakers bombarded Thunberg and other youth activists with praise, saying they had a sparked a global movement that is already being felt in the 2020 presidential campaign and in the halls of Congress, where lawmakers are debating proposals such as the Green New Deal.

Markey is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, which would shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

"We need your leadership," he told Thunberg and other activists. "It's creating a new X factor" to boost efforts to fight climate change.

Last month, Thunberg crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a solar-powered boat, landing in New York City on Aug. 28. She's in Washington for several days of rallies and lobbying efforts in advance of Friday's global climate strike.

Thunberg will address the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23.

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