SITTING before Congress, all eyes on her, teenager Greta Thunberg had a blunt message for US lawmakers: “I don’t want you to listen to me.”

It seemed like an odd sentiment. The 16-year-old is the one who kickstarted environmental activism on its current scale and, over the course of the past year, has assumed a celebrity-like status, lecturing world leaders about the climate crisis. 

But Greta is acutely aware that, while better versed in global environmental policy than you or I, she is not an expert. She is a student, not a scientist, and it is the science that she wants US lawmakers to take heed of. 

In lieu of an opening testimony, she submitted a copy of the 2018 global warming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists chosen by the United Nations to help guide world leaders.

The report emphasises the dire threat that human-caused global warming poses, along with the climate and economic impacts.

“I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don’t want you to listen to me,” Greta told Capitol Hill yesterday. “I want you to listen to the scientists.

nd I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take action.”

Her polite but stern phrasing has underpinned other meetings in Washington, which come ahead of a global climate strike tomorrow, in which scores of students and workers will walk out of schools and officers as world leaders gather in New York for the annual United Nations summit.

“Please save your praise. We don’t want it,” she told senators on Tuesday. “Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it, because it doesn’t lead to anything.

“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 the science to be heard.”
Addressing Congress as a whole, she said: “I know you are trying but just not hard enough. Sorry.”

Greta appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis with three other younger climate activists, Jamie Margolin, Vic Barrett and Benji Backer.

Jamie, who is suing the state of Washington over climate change, told the hearing: “People who say we have a great future ahead are lying to my face.”
She pointed out that the destruction already seen in the world from the climate crisis “will get worse” and her generation is being left a terrible legacy.

“The government cannot even begin to imagine the size of the political shift that needs to happen to act on the climate crisis, she said. “The youth are calling for a new era altogether...we only have a few months left to transfer to a renewable energy economy. 

“People call my generation Generation Z as if we are the last generation, but we are not, we are the GND Generation – the green new deal generation.”

In August, Greta captured global attention when she set off from Plymouth on a zero-emissions boat voyage across the Atlantic to avoid using air travel to reach the US. After a 13-day voyage on a yacht, she arrived in New York City and went on to hold a protest outside the United Nations HQ.

During her visit to the US, she has also protested in front of the White House, appeared on Comedy Central’s Daily Show and met with former President Barack Obama, who called the teenager “one of our planet’s greatest advocates.” 

“Recognising that her generation will bear the brunt of climate change, she’s unafraid to push for real action,” the former president wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

She is also set to speak at the UN Climate Change Summit later this month. 
Last week, Greta led a rally outside the White House with dozens of others, chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go.” The protesters, many of them young activists, held a variety of homemade signs, including ‘Make Earth cool again’ and ‘Save the ice caps’.

“I’m so incredibly grateful for every single one of you,” she told the crowd. “Never give up. We will continue.”