Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist whose global crusade sent tens of thousands of Canadians into the streets Friday to join others around the world in demanding action on climate change, says the nasty backlash she has faced from some leaders is proof positive her message is getting across.
Thunberg has been mocked and ridiculed by some of the world’s most powerful people, including U.S. President Donald Trump, who dismiss her calls to climate action as the musings of a silly schoolgirl. In Canada, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier called her a mentally ill pawn of adults.
But if adults are mocking children, they must be feeling the heat, Thunberg said during a news conference in Montreal where she continued to be the focal point of a massive, international day of action.
“I don’t understand why grown-ups would choose to mock children and teenagers for just communicating and acting on the science when they could do something good instead,” she said.
“But I guess they must feel like their worldview or their interests or whatever it is, is threatened by us. We should take as a compliment that we are having so much impact that people want to silence us.”
This entire week has become known as the “Week for Future,” starting with an emergency climate session at the United Nations on Monday where Thunberg lashed out at world leaders for not taking the crisis seriously enough.
Thunberg began weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish legislature last year, which over the course of a few months grew into a global phenomenon. One week ago, millions of people around the world marched in protest against governments not taking drastic climate action. Another day of global protest took place Friday, including in more than 85 cities and towns in Canada.
From St. John’s to Vancouver, and as far north as Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, tens of thousands of Canadians came out in force. They came in strollers and on skateboards, on bikes and in army boots, wearing knee braces and leaning on crutches and canes. From babies to baby boomers, grandkids to grandparents, they filled parks and the lawns of legislatures and Parliament, toting papier-mache Earths and trees, some with full potted plants on their backs.
Their message was clear: Bolder action is urgently needed to save the planet from the crisis of climate change.
— Paul J. Henderson (@PeeJayAitch) September 27, 2019
— kendra crighton (@kendracrighton) September 27, 2019
Many of those who came out called Thunberg their inspiration.
“I think she has revolutionized how we look at activism,” said Pascal Morimanno, a 17-year-old marching in Fredericton. “She is one person but there are millions of youth out here now because of her. She is the face of new activism.”
The grassroots groups behind the Canadian marches have some specific demands, including refusing any new oil and gas projects and cutting emissions to be just one-quarter of what they were in 2005 by 2030.
The Canadian Press