The 16-year old Swede, who inspired the worldwide “School Strike For Climate” movement, addressed MEPs in an Environment Committee meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
In her opening statement, Greta Thunberg called for “permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to combat the breakdown of the climate and eco systems. This includes reducing CO2 emissions by at least 50% within ten years, she said.
She called upon MEPs and leaders to unite behind the science, set their differences aside and focus on making policies accordingly, because “what we are doing now can soon no longer be undone.”
“The future – as well as all that we have achieved in the past – is literally in your hands now. (…) It will take ‘cathedral thinking’”, she added.
Reminding all Europeans of the upcoming European elections, she said: “you vote for the future living conditions of humankind.”
Children, who will be affected most, are now taking to the streets, to make their voice heard. “You need to listen to us – we who cannot vote. You need to vote for us, for your children and grandchildren.”
MEPs welcomed the unfailing commitment of Ms Thunberg and emphasised their continued legislative work on cleaner energy, a circular economy, fairer taxation of aviation and other environmental policies, while recognising that much more needs to be done, much faster. Some pleaded for the voting age to be set at 16 in the EU.
Meanwhile, UK police moved in again to begin arresting climate activists blocking Waterloo Bridge in central London.
Hundreds of people had occupied the crossing and three other sites in central London since Monday morning.
Overnight officers tried to clear the bridge, arresting 113 people, but the blockade remained in place. Just after 12.30pm on Tuesday officers moved in again and began to carry people away.
One of those facing arrest was Angie Zealter, 67, from Knighton in Wales. “It will take the police some time to clear all these people and more will come here to support us,” she said.