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Swedish climate activists Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, Isabelle Axelsson, and Vanessa Nakate take part in a "Friday for Future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on January 24, 2020 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting.

Swedish climate activists Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, Isabelle Axelsson, and Vanessa Nakate take part in a "Friday for Future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on January 24, 2020 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting. (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

#TheWorldIsWatching: Youth Activists Direct Ire Over Climate Inaction at WEF Elite

"If only leaders were as good [at] taking real action as they were giving speeches," said Greta Thunberg.

Andrea Germanos

Young activists on Friday issued fresh warnings about the climate crisis and directed demands for bold action to address the planetary emergency to the global leaders attending the virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum—The Davos Agenda—telling them that "the time for excuses is over."

Using the hashtag #TheWorldIsWatching, supporters of the Fridays for Future movement engaged in a "tweetstorm" to highlight what they say is the WEF's responsibility in addressing the crisis.

Among those taking part was Swedish climate leader Greta Thunberg, who wrote: "Every single day leaders have the possibility to act, and yet they actively choose not to. Instead they set up vague hypothetical pledges and commitments way into the future. No more excuses. @WEF #TheWorldIsWatching."

In its call-to-action, Fridays for Future referenced last year's in-person WEF summit in Davos, Switzerland which had as its theme "stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world." A number of youth climate leaders were at the 2020 Swiss gathering, where they expressed frustration over what they saw as continued empty promises to address the warming planet from world leaders. 

Unfortunately, says Fridays for Future, "action should have followed" the 2020 summit, "but far too little happened this year." The group adds:

It was not an easy year, in many ways a foretaste of things to come. It was one of the hottest years on record and its disasters destroyed and took the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands. To make it through this unusual year, it was necessary to show global solidarity. However, this cannot stop with the pandemic. Especially in order to slow down human-caused global warming, this solidarity is absolutely crucial. Only if we all pull together, all pursue the same goal, all stand up for a future worth living, we can make a difference.

With the publication of the Davos Agenda 2021, the WEF aims to deliver solutions to 7 key areas—climate change being one of them. As a key player in international cooperation, the WEF and its members have an enormous responsibility towards the entire world population.

The global players can no longer hide behind empty words and greenwashed solutions. They must act according to their responsibilities and know that the world is watching each and every of their moves.

In a virtual address to this year's attendees, Thunberg said, "I'm only here to once again remind you of the emergency we are in... The crisis that you continue to ignore."

"We understand that the world is complex and that change doesn't happen overnight," she said, speaking for the youth movement for climate action. "But you've now had more than three decades of blah blah blah. How many more do you need? Because when it comes to facing the climate emergency, the world is still in a state of complete denial. The justice for the most affected people in the most affected areas is being systematically denied."

She added that "we can have as many summits and meetings as we want, but unless we treat the climate and ecological emergency like an emergency, no sufficient changes will be achieved."


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