Thunberg was one of several young activists from around the world invited to address the task force during two days of action and speeches. Instead of sending a personal statement – something usually done ahead of a hearing – Thunberg sent Congress a major report on global warming along with eight sentences of her own.
The lawmakers praised the group of young activists for their leadership, their gumption and their display of wisdom far beyond their years. They then asked the group for advice on how to address climate change. Greta reminded the Senators that she was just a school student and not a scientist.
Thunberg was quite blunt when speaking to the task force, saying “I know you are trying, but just not hard enough. Sorry,” before adding: “Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it. Save your praise.”
“If you want advice for what you should do, invite scientists, ask scientists for their expertise. We don’t want to be heard. We want science to be heard.”
Young people are leading the climate action movement because, for them, climate change is a matter of life and death. Today, I’m with GretaThunberg and leading youth climate activists from around the planet to demand ClimateActionNow. Watch: Markey (@SenMarkey) September 17, 2019
Senator Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who co-sponsored the Green New Deal and leads the Senate task force, was surprised at Thunberg’s bluntness but was also impressed. With a Republican-controlled Senate, the chances of getting anything related to climate change mitigation passed is bleak, at best.
“We need your leadership,” Markey told Thunberg, according to The Guardian. “Young people are the army politically, which has arrived in the United States. You put a spotlight on this issue in a way that it has never been before. And that is creating a new X factor.”
Ms. Thunberg also got to meet with former President Barack Obama, who called her “one of our planet’s greatest advocates.” Greta’s visit to Washington comes ahead of planned climate strikes around the world on Friday. There will be 4,638 events in 139 countries on Friday – with a similar strike next Friday, also.
In some places, like Victoria, Australia, students, along with public workers are being actively encouraged to walk out of school and work.
“We want our kids to be engaged in the world around them, so we don’t think it’s fair to criticize students for holding a peaceful protest about an issue as important as this,” a government spokesman told The Age – a Melbourne-based daily newspaper.
Ms. Thunberg will testify before Congress on Wednesday before heading to New York City for the Friday climate strike and addressing the UN Climate Action Summit next week.