Greta Thunberg whipped up thousands of climate protesters in Switzerland today during a rabble-rousing speech where she warned world leaders ‘you haven’t seen anything yet’.
The 17-year-old figurehead of environmentalism addressed the crowds crammed into the square in Lausanne ahead of next week’s Davos summit where some of the planet’s most powerful movers and shakers will get together to map out responses to global challenges.
In a withering assessment of global efforts to combat climate change, the eco-warrior told the masses: ‘So far during this decade we are seeing no sign whatsoever that real climate action is coming.
‘That has to change. This is just the beginning. You haven’t seen anything yet. We assure you of that!’
Wearing a beanie hat and clutching a billboard reading ‘school strike for climate’ – the campaign which propelled the teenager to international fame – Thunberg then trudged among the crowds on a protest march.
According to organizers, the demonstration drew 15,000 on to the cobbled streets of the city centre, which ground to a standstill on Friday morning amid a carnival-like atmosphere.
Buoyed-up by Thunberg’s speech, animated activists hollered: ‘One, two, three degrees! It’s a crime against humanity!’ they chanted, while a group at the head of the march held up a banner saying: ‘Let’s Change The System, Not the Climate’.
Some of the young protesters took inspiration from the latest extreme weather events around the world.
One held up a soft toy koala with a sign around his neck reading simply ‘HELP’ – a reference to the bushfires that have ravaged Australia, while another brandished a cardboard sign reading ‘Wake Up and Smell the Bushfires’.
‘Fear for the glaciers’, read another sign – echoing concern among residents of the Alps about the rapidly shrinking mountain ice formations due to climate change.
‘There Is No Planet B’, ‘I Have a Green Dream’ and ‘We Want A Cooler Planet’, read some of the other signs.
Thunberg is due to address the summit in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos next week with a call on governments and financial institutions to stop investing in fossil fuels.
She will tell her corporate audience that it is ‘madness’ to continue investing in fossil fuels as disasters such as the wave of wildfires in Australia focus new attention on the baleful effects of rising temperatures
In response to the global climate movement spearheaded by the Swede, big businesses are trying to establish their green credentials, and the topic has been bumped up the Davos agenda.
Wall Street titan BlackRock – whose CEO Larry Fink is a Davos perennial – said it was partially divesting from businesses reliant on production of electricity-generating coal.
But climate-sceptic Donald Trump will likely reignite his war of words with Thunberg, with both bringing rival messages to the 3,000-delegate summit in the Alps.