Montreal·Video

Greta Thunberg, in her own words, at the Montreal climate march

"Some would say, we are wasting lesson time. We say we are changing the world," the Swedish teen said, addressing an estimated half a million demonstrators in Montreal Friday.

'Some would say we are wasting lesson time. We say we are changing the world,' Swedish teen told throngs

Activist Greta Thunberg addresses the crowd at the end of Friday's climate march in Montreal. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Greta Thunberg, in Montreal Friday to take part in a global march for climate action, addressed a crowd estimated at half a million. She called for continued protests, until world leaders agree to take concrete action. 

Below is a full transcript of the 16-year-old Swede's speech.


Bonjour Montreal. Je suis très heureuse d'être ici au Canada, au Québec. Merci beaucoup.

So, at least 500,000 here today. You should very proud of yourselves because this we have done together, and I cannot thank you enough for being here.

So around the world today, millions of people are marching right now. And it's just incredible to be united in such a way for a common cause. It just feels great, doesn't it? But it feels great to be in Canada. It's a bit like coming home. You are very similar to Sweden, where I'm from. You have moose, and we have moose. You have cold winters and lots of snow and pine trees. We have cold winters and lots of snow and pine trees. You have the caribou, and we have the reindeer. You play ice hockey; we play ice hockey. You have maple syrup, and we have — well, forget about that one. 

You are a nation that is allegedly a climate leader. And Sweden is also a nation that is allegedly a climate leader. And in both cases, it means absolutely nothing. Because in both cases, it's just empty words. And the politics needed are still nowhere in sight. So we are basically the same.

Hundreds of thousands came out on Friday for the climate strike in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Last week, well over four million people in over 170 countries striked for the climate.  We marched for a living planet and a safe future for everyone. We spoke the science and demanded that the people in power would listen to and act on the science. But our political leaders didn't listen. This week, world leaders all around the world gathered in New York for the UN Climate Action Summit. They disappointed us once again with their empty words and insufficient plans. 

We told them to unite behind the science, but they didn't listen. So today, we are millions around the world striking and marching again. And we will keep on doing it until they listen.

If the people in power won't take their responsibility, then we will. It should not be up to us, but somebody needs to do it.

They say we shouldn't worry, that we should look forward to a bright future. But they forget that, if they would have done their job, we wouldn't need to worry. If they had started acting in time, then this crisis wouldn't be the crisis it is today. And we promise, once they start taking the responsibility and do their job, we will stop worrying and go back to school, go back to work.

And once again, we are not communicating our opinions or political views. The climate and ecological crisis is beyond party politics. We are communicating the current, best available science to some people — particularly those who, in many ways, have caused this crisis that science is too uncomfortable to address. But we, who will have to live with the consequences, and indeed those who are living with the climate and ecological crisis already — we don't have a choice.

To stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius and give us a chance to avoid the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control — to do that, we must speak clearly and tell it like it is and tell the truth. 

The Swedish teen addressed an estimated half a million demonstrators in Montreal on Friday. 14:50

In the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] SR-1.5 reports that came out last year, it says on page 108 in chapter 2 that to have a 67 per cent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise — the best odds given by the IPCC — the world had 420 gigatonnes of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1, 2018.

And today, that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes.

They say, 'Let children be children.' We agree. Let us be children. Do your part. Communicate these kinds of numbers instead of leaving that responsibility to us.- Greta Thunberg

With today's emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than eight and a half years. And please note that these calculations do not include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution, non-linear tipping points, gross-feedback loops or the aspect of equity climate justice. 

They are also relying on my generation, your generation, sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. Not one single time have I heard any politician, journalist or business leader even mention these numbers.

They say, "Let children be children." We agree. Let us be children. Do your part. Communicate these kinds of numbers instead of leaving that responsibility to us. Then we can go back to "being children."

And we are not in school today. You are not at work today. Because this is an emergency, and we will not be bystanders. Some would say we are wasting lesson time. We say we are changing the world. 

So that when we are older, we will be able to look our children in the eyes and say that we did everything we could back then. Because that is our moral duty, and we will never stop doing that. We will never stop fighting for a living planet and for a safe future — for our future.

We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse, even if that means skipping school or work. Because this is more important. We have been told so many times that there is no point in doing this. That we won't have an impact anyway. That we can't have an impact and make a difference. But I think we have proven that to be wrong by now. 

Prime Minister and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg in Montreal on Friday, September 27, 2019. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Through history, the most important changes in society have come from the bottom up, from grassroots. And the numbers are still coming in. But it looks like 6.6 million people have joined the Week for Future, the strikes for this [Friday] and last Friday [when demonstrations took place in the U.S. and elsewhere.]

That is one of the biggest demonstrations in history. The people have spoken, and we will continue to speak until our leaders listen and act.

We are the change, and change is coming.