Greta Thunberg and 15 other young people are suing five of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluters.
Thunberg and teenagers hailing from 12 different countries filed a human rights complaint against nations on Monday for not using their resources “to prevent the deadly and foreseeable consequences” of the climate crisis. The complaint evokes the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a 30-year-old human rights treaty that’s the most widely ratified in history, CNN reports.
The countries named are Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey. Thunberg and the other youth climate leaders have not asked for monetary compensation — just that the countries take immediate action to reduce their carbon emissions. The petition states that the countries have made “inadequate” pledges to reduce emissions per the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
“The message that we want to send is that we’ve had enough,” Thunberg said at the press conference.
The U.S. and China — the two biggest contributors to global CO2 emissions — were not included in Thunberg’s list. This is due to the fact that the aforementioned countries have not agreed to hear complaints against them. It is also because neither the U.S. nor China have ratified the part of the Convention on the Rights of the Child treaty that allows children to seek justice.
The filing includes statements from the children on how their rights have been violated. They note that they may not have a future of the climate crisis worsens.
‘We’ll Be Watching You’
The potentially world-changing lawsuit announcement followed Thunberg’s speech before the UN’s Climate Action Summit in New York today.
“We’ll be watching you,” Thunberg told leaders at the Climate Action Summit in New York. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean.”
“You all come to us young people for hope,” she continued. “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.”
Unlike her usual speeches, Thunberg became visibly emotional before the summit.
“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,” she said. “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.”
‘You Are Failing Us’
Thunberg criticized world leaders for speaking of change in terms of economic growth and money in the face of the Sixth Mass Extinction. “How dare you?” she asked. She cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chate (IPCC), which posits that the world has a “total carbon budget” of 420 gigatons of CO2 to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius. The plan aims to cut carbon emissions in half over the next decade. This gives the world a 50 percent chance of not passing the threshold.
She then called out world leaders for relying on the younger generation to remove “hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.” She added: “So, a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.”
The 16-year-old climate activist continued, adding that the budget is already down to less than 350 gigatons and the budget will be gone in less than eight and a half 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,” she added.
Thunberg concluded: “You are failing us, but 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.”
A testament to her influence from just over one year ago, when Thunberg began her solo protests, her speech preceded Pope Francis. It’s estimated that last week’s Climate Strike, which took place in 150 countries across the nation, was the biggest global warming rally in history. She has earned praise from influential figures including former president Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.