'We are the change. And change is coming'

| 28th February 2020
Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old climate activist, addresses a crowd of 30,000 in Bristol to mark the city's 10th youth climate strike.

All the great changes have come from the people.

Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish activist, set the Bristol Youth Climate Strikes alight today as she told a crowd of more than 30,0o0 people: "We will not be silenced. Because we are the change. And change is coming. Whether you like it or not."

The teenager spoke for less than six minutes but was warmly received by a crowd that had waited patiently in the mud and rain to see the climate campaigner for themselves.

Greta's speech was impassioned, and she laid the blame for climate breakdown directly at the door of the rich and powerful. "I will not stand aside and watch", she said: "I will not be silenced while the world is on fire. Will you?"

Change

She told the crowd: "World leaders are behaving like children. And so it falls on us to be the adults in the room. It should not be this way. We should not have to be the ones who will have to lead on this. And tell the uncomfortable truth. 

"Once again, they sweep their mess under the rug and they get young people to clean up for them. But we must continue, and we have to be patient. For the changes required will not happen over night, since the politics and the solutions needed are still far from sight. 

"But if enough people are pushing for change, then change will come. And we are those people. And every single person counts."

The people

She added: "Just look at Bristol as an example. The other week, the plans to expand Bristol Airport were cancelled. Thanks to climate activists. Of course, this is far from enough. But it shows that with action we can make a difference. Activism works. So I am telling you to act.

"If you look throughout history, all the great changes have come from the people. We are being betrayed by those in power and they are failing us. But we will not back down."

She concluded: "And if you feel threatened by that, I have some very bad news for you. We will not be silenced. Because we are the change. And change is coming. Whether you like it or not."

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist.

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