Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg said she’s overwhelmed by the success of Friday’s climate protests.
But the 16-year-old who sparked the global movement said she was underwhelmed by the United States government’s approach to climate change.
Thunberg spoke with The Associated Press as the climate events were underway. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
DID YOU THINK YOU’D GET NUMBERS LIKE THIS WHEN YOU STARTED?
It’s just such a victory. I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen someday. And so fast, only in 15 months. I can’t wait to see the official numbers come in. It will be magnificent.
I think if enough people get together and stand up for this then that can have a huge difference, to put pressure on the people in power, to actually hold them accountable and to say you need to do something now.
WHAT’S YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN THE UNITED STATES AROUND CLIMATE CHANGE?
It’s a bit worse than in other countries. The arguments for continuing to not do anything and the empty words and promises and lies are the same. Some countries are more extreme than others but it’s not much different.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE UPCOMING CLIMATE ACTION SUMMIT?
We must hope, but we must also be prepared for that nothing comes out of it. And then we need to continue no matter what. Giving up cannot be an option. Indeed, this is a great opportunity to do something and they (leaders) should take that. Otherwise they should feel ashamed.
PEOPLE WHO DENY CLIMATE CHANGE HAVE ATTACKED YOU PERSONALLY. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
It’s sad. You just have to ignore them because they are just desperately trying to remove the focus from the climate crisis to make it something about me as an individual rather than the crisis itself. When they do that, they don’t have any arguments left.”