Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

That awkward moment of silence when a teenager tells you you've set the planet on fire.

Right "To Their Faces," 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells Davos Elite Climate Crisis Their Fault

"Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to make unimaginable amounts of money, and I think many of you here today belong to that group of people."

Andrea Germanos

Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg just told a group of the elite gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum—as they were seated just feet away from her—that they are among those directly responsible for the climate crisis.

"It takes deep courage to go to Davos and tell the masters-of-the-universe *to their faces* that they knowingly torched the planet in order to get filthy rich."
—Naomi Klein
Speaking Thursday before a panel that included U2 frontman Bono, former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, acclaimed conservationist Jane Goodall, and panel host and billionaire Marc Benioff, Thunberg echoed themes from a video she created to share with Davos-goers.

"Some people say that that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is not true—because if everyone is guilty, then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame," Thunberg said to the peope in the room. "Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to make unimaginable amounts of money, and I think many of you here today belong to that group of people."

Her statement was followed by silence until Bono began applauding. Other audience members and panelists then followed suit.

The teen activist shared the moment on Twitter:

Journalist and climate activist Naomi Klein applauded Thunberg's bravery, writing on Twitter: "It takes deep courage to go to Davos and tell the masters-of-the-universe *to their faces* that they knowingly torched the planet in order [to] get filthy rich."

Speaking to CNN Business about the talk, Thunberg said, "It was pretty fun."

"I think it's very insane and weird that people come here in private jets to discuss climate change. It's not reasonable," Thunberg—who arrived at the gathering by train and has been sleeping in a tent—told the outlet.

Benioff also shared clips of some of the others on the panel speaking, including Goodall:

On Friday, the last day of the forum, Thunberg continued her criticism of the Davos attendees in an address that demanded action above all else from the world's so-called leaders. "I want you to act as you would in a crisis," she said. "I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is."


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

27 Groups Urge Congress to Close FBI 'Backdoor Search' Loophole

"Ending this unconstitutional practice is imperative to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance does not swallow Americans' privacy rights."

Brett Wilkins ·



300+ Civil Society Groups Counter-Mobilize Against UN Food Systems Summit

"Repeating the agri-business-as-usual model to solve the food and climate crisis cannot deliver on the holistic and systemic transformation of our food systems we need today."

Kenny Stancil ·


House Dems Ask ExxonMobil Lobbyist to Testify About Climate Misinformation

"For decades, the fossil fuel industry and its allies have used the same tactics as the tobacco industry to spread denial and doubt about the harm of its products," the letter states.

Brett Wilkins ·


Donziger Slams Criminal Contempt Ruling as 'Message of Intimidation' to Human Rights Lawyers

"The United States has now become one of those countries where environmental advocates are attacked, put in jail, or even murdered for doing their jobs successfully."

Jake Johnson ·