Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

UN Secretary General António Guterres seated next to 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each day, "there are no politics to change that. There are no politics to keep that oil in the ground. So we can longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed." (Photo: UNFCC COP24 / Screenshot)

UN Secretary General António Guterres seated next to 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each day, "there are no politics to change that. There are no politics to keep that oil in the ground. So we can longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed." (Photo: UNFCC COP24 / Screenshot)

'We Have Not Come Here to Beg World Leaders to Care,' 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells COP24. 'We Have Come to Let Them Know Change Is Coming'

"We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules," says Greta Thunberg, "because the rules have to be changed."

Jon Queally

Striking her mark at the COP24 climate talks taking place this week and next in Poland, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden issued a stern rebuke on behalf of the world's youth climate movement to the adult diplomats, executives, and elected leaders gathered by telling them she was not there asking for help or demanding they comply with demands but to let them know that new political realities and a renewable energy transformation are coming whether they like it or not.

"Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago." —Greta Thunberg"Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago," said Thunberg, who has garnered international notoriety for weekly climate strikes outside her school in Sweden, during a speech on Monday.

Thunberg said that she was not asking anything of the gathered leaders—even as she sat next to UN Secretary General António Guterres—but only asking the people of the world "to realize that our political leaders have failed us, because we are facing an existential threat and there's no time to continue down this road of madness."

Thunberg explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each day, "there are no politics to change that. There are no politics to keep that oil in the ground. So we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed."

"So we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future," she declared. "They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge."

"On climate change," said Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, the teenage Thunberg "demonstrates more clarity and leadership in one speech than a quarter of a century of the combined contributions of so called world leaders. Wilful ignorance and lies have overseen a 65 percent rise in CO2 since 1990. Time to hand over the baton."

Watch Thunberg's full remarks:

The climate crisis, she said, "is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. First we have to realize this and then as fast as possible do something to stop the emissions and try to save what we can save.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·


Democracy 'On the Line' Says Bowman After Protest Arrest

"I will not stand by and I will not stay quiet while the fate of our democracy continues to hang loosely by a thread that the Senate is hellbent on tearing apart."

Julia Conley ·


To 'Hold Her Accountable for What She Did,' Primary Sinema Project Gets Into Gear

"Kyrsten Sinema is unfit to be a United States senator," the project asserts. "Just like the filibuster itself, we need to get rid of her if we want to save our democracy before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo