Greta Thunberg's UN Climate Summit Speech Has Gone Viral

"You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words."

World Leaders Gather For United Nations Climate Summit
(Image credit: Stephanie Keith)

On August 28, 2019, 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City, sailing thousands of miles away from her home (opens in new tab) across the Atlantic Ocean, in preparation for the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Since then, the teen learned how to navigate the NYC subway system (a nearly impossible task), hung out in Central Park, and led a global climate strike (opens in new tab) that brought millions of people together across the world to fight for our planet. As many signs stated, "There is no planet B."

If all of that sounds pretty wild to you, it should. Thunberg has been holding school strikes, known as #FridaysForFuture (opens in new tab), since 2018, and today at the UN Climate Action Summit she made it clear that this absolutely should not be her job. "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean," she exclaimed in her speech to UN leaders. "Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!"

She continues, "You have stolen my dreams, 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 fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you."

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It's reported that President Trump only spent 15 minutes (opens in new tab) at the summit, and completely ignored Thunberg. (There's a GIF to prove it (opens in new tab).) Yet her speech immediately went viral, garnering support from people like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). And much like her plea to save our planet, the reactions are incredibly powerful...even if the president doesn't have one.

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Watch Thunberg's full speech, below, and find out how you can participate in your local climate strike here (opens in new tab).

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Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.