Greta Thunberg spent two weeks sailing across the Atlantic to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Her speech on Monday did not disappoint: In just over four minutes, the teen activist castigated world leaders with an impassioned reminder that the bare minimum will not correct course when it comes to the climate crisis.

"This is all wrong," Thunberg, 16, began, her voice barely containing her fury and contempt. "I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean." (Thunberg is from Sweden.)

"You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?" she continued. "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"

Thunberg launched a global youth movement in August 2018, when she began skipping school on Fridays to sit outside Swedish Parliament, a solo protest intended to push lawmakers to recognize the urgency of climate change. Her strikes gained traction worldwide, and on Friday, she led a Global Climate Strike that drew millions of people across more than 160 countries and probably qualifies as the largest environmental protest ever.

Speaking in NYC on Friday — to an audience largely composed of young people, who'd been given the day off school to participate — Thunberg took a similar tack: "The people in power, their beautiful words are the same, the empty promises are the same, the lies are the same, and the inaction is the same," she said. "Nowhere have I found anyone in power who dares to tell it like it is, because no matter where you are, even that burden they leave to us, us teenagers, us children." Children who are now stepping up to help solve a problem they had no hand in creating.

At the U.N., Thunberg doubled down, emphasizing that the available research has for decades demonstrated what would happen if we did not check carbon emissions. (Indeed, climate scientists warned Congress about global warming in 1988.) The current plan would halve emissions over 10 years; even then, Thunberg stressed, we're looking at about a 50 percent chance of staying below the proscribed 1.5C degree warming threshold. But that does not account for "tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of justice and equity," she said. It also relies "on my and my children’s generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist," she continued. "So a 50 percent risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences."

Thunberg also warned world leaders that failure to act in a manner proportionate with the problem meant younger generations would "never forgive" them, and on behalf of her generation, warned the assembled diplomats that "we are watching you." Thunberg was definitely watching President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a pair of dangerously emboldened climate science deniers, who strolled into the auditorium after her speech.


Following her remarks, Thunberg and 15 other kids (meet all of them here) filed a complaint with the U.N., arguing that Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey had endangered their lives with inadequate action on the climate crisis, thereby violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Guardian published the full transcript of Thunberg's U.N. speech; you can read it here.