Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


Personal tools
You are here: Home / Blog / Greta Thunberg's How Dare You Speech At The U.N. Climate Action Summit

Greta Thunberg's How Dare You Speech At The U.N. Climate Action Summit

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, addressed the U.N.'s Climate Action Summit in New York City on September 23, 2019: United Nations Climate Action Summit – "How dare you!" On 23 September 2019, Thunberg addressed the assembled world leaders at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit held in New York City. Here's the full transcript of Thunberg's speech, beginning with her response to a question about the message she has for world leaders.
Greta Thunberg's How Dare You Speech At The U.N. Climate Action Summit

Greta Thunberg's How Dare You Speech At The U.N. Climate Action Summit

My message is that we'll be watching you.

This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. 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 fairy tales 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.

You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

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.

To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.

How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just 'business as usual' and some technical solutions? With today's emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.

There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.

We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

Thank you.

Greta Thunberg's How Dare You Speech At The U.N. Climate Action Summit


1. What was the main message of Greta Thunberg's speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit? Greta Thunberg's main message to world leaders was a stern rebuke for their failure to take sufficient action against climate change, accusing them of stealing her generation's dreams and childhood with their inaction. She emphasized the urgent need for real, impactful environmental policies, dismissing current efforts as insufficient given the looming threat of a mass extinction and global warming.

2. Why did Thunberg say, "How dare you"? Thunberg used "How dare you" as a powerful rebuke to express her indignation and disbelief at world leaders' failure to address climate change adequately. She highlighted their focus on economic growth over the planet's ecological health and the future of younger generations, challenging their moral and ethical responsibility to act.

3. What scientific evidence did Thunberg reference in her speech? Thunberg referenced over 30 years of clear scientific evidence indicating the dire consequences of climate change. She also mentioned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which outlines the necessity of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown, and the rapidly diminishing carbon budget available to achieve this goal.

4. What criticisms did Thunberg have for the proposed solutions to climate change? Thunberg criticized the proposed solutions for being rooted in "business as usual" and reliant on unproven technologies for CO2 removal from the atmosphere. She argued that these solutions fail to consider tipping points, feedback loops, and issues of equity and climate justice, deeming a 50% chance of avoiding catastrophe as unacceptable.

5. What was Thunberg's warning to world leaders and her message to the younger generation? Thunberg warned that the younger generation is keenly aware of the leaders' betrayal and failure to act on climate change. She vowed that they would not let the leaders "get away with this," signaling a global awakening and the inevitability of change. Her message underscored a call to action for young people to hold leaders accountable and not forgive inaction.

6. What does Thunberg mean by "fairy tales of eternal economic growth"? Thunberg criticizes the belief that economic growth can continue indefinitely on a planet with finite resources. She challenges the sustainability of pursuing economic development without considering its environmental impact and the long-term health of the planet.

7. Why does Thunberg refer to herself and others as "one of the lucky ones"? By saying she's "one of the lucky ones," Thunberg acknowledges her privileged position compared to many who are already suffering from the direct consequences of climate change, such as extreme weather events, loss of livelihood, and displacement.

8. What are the irreversible chain reactions Thunberg warns about? Thunberg warns about triggering points in the Earth's system that, once passed, could lead to uncontrollable and catastrophic changes, such as the release of greenhouse gases from melting permafrost or the dieback of forests, which would accelerate global warming beyond human control.

9. How does Thunberg view the notion of cutting emissions in half in 10 years? She criticizes this goal as insufficient, pointing out that even achieving this target only offers a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, a risk level she deems unacceptable given the stakes of triggering irreversible environmental damage.

10. What is Thunberg's stance on the use of technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere? Thunberg is skeptical about relying heavily on future technologies to remove CO2, arguing that such technologies are not yet proven at scale and divert attention from the immediate need to reduce emissions.

11. Why does Thunberg challenge the maturity of world leaders? She accuses world leaders of lacking the maturity to acknowledge the full extent and urgency of the climate crisis, suggesting their actions are guided by political convenience rather than scientific reality and moral responsibility.

12. What does Thunberg mean by "the world is waking up"? This statement reflects her observation of a growing global awareness and mobilization around climate change, driven by the younger generation's demand for action that matches the scale of the crisis.

13. How does Thunberg's speech reflect on the concept of "climate justice"? Her speech touches on climate justice by highlighting how current policies and actions disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations who have contributed least to the problem, calling for equitable solutions that consider social and economic disparities.


  • Climate Action Summit: A high-level conference organized by the United Nations to address global climate change by encouraging countries to enhance their climate action plans.
  • Mass Extinction: A significant loss of biodiversity, where many species die out in a relatively short geological period, often due to drastic environmental changes.
  • Economic Growth: An increase in the production and consumption of goods and services, often criticized for being prioritized over environmental sustainability in the context of climate change discussions.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): The United Nations body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change, providing a scientific basis for governments at all levels to develop climate-related policies.
  • Carbon Budget: The amount of carbon dioxide emissions that can be emitted while still having a chance to limit global warming to a specific target, such as 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • Tipping Points: Critical thresholds in the Earth's ecological systems, beyond which significant and often irreversible changes occur.
  • Feedback Loops: Processes that can either amplify or diminish the effects of climate change, such as the melting of polar ice reducing the Earth's albedo and thereby increasing global warming.
  • Climate Justice: The ethical and political concept that addresses the inequities of climate change, recognizing that those least responsible for climate change often suffer its gravest consequences.
  • "Business as Usual": A term used to describe ongoing or standard operations without significant changes or improvements, often criticized in the context of insufficient environmental policies.
  • Global Warming: The long-term rise in Earth's average surface temperature, primarily due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels, which leads to climate change.
  • Ecosystem Collapse: The breakdown of ecological functions in a given area, leading to drastic reductions in biodiversity and the loss of ecosystem services essential for human survival.
  • Economic Development: The process by which a country improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people, often measured by growth in GDP, but criticized when pursued without regard to environmental sustainability.
  • Sustainability: The principle of meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, emphasizing a balanced approach to economic development, environmental health, and social equity.
  • Permafrost: Permanently frozen ground found in polar regions, whose melting due to global warming can release significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Greenhouse Gases: Gases in Earth's atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that trap heat and contribute to global warming.
  • Technical Solutions: Refers to technological approaches to solving problems, which in the context of climate change, include carbon capture and storage or geoengineering. Thunberg criticizes overreliance on these future technologies as risky and insufficient.
  • Business as Usual Scenario: A future projection based on continuing existing trends without significant changes in policy or behavior, often used in climate modeling to highlight the need for drastic action to prevent severe climate change impacts.
  • Intergenerational Equity: The concept of fairness in the relationship between current and future generations, particularly regarding the use and conservation of natural resources and the environment.
  • Toxic Air Pollution: Refers to harmful pollutants released into the air, which can mask some effects of global warming by reflecting sunlight away from Earth but have severe health and environmental impacts.