Her speech to the United Nations at the summit on Monday was honest and direct. And very angry — it spoke to the disappointment that she feels in world leaders and how they are dealing with climate change.
But she was just one of many people at the summit. They included dozens of world leaders and hundreds of representatives of nations around the globe. They were all there to pledge what their nations are willing to do differently to tackle carbon emissions and climate change, especially in terms of how they get their energy.
What did they say? Let's have a look.
There was positive news. Three important leaders — Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's Boris Johnson, and South Korea's Moon Jae-in — all announced that they would double their funding to the UN's Green Climate Fund (GCF). This is a fund that gives money to developing nations to help them deal with reducing their emissions. Canada also contributes to this fund and will donate $7 billion US in its next round.
And around 30 countries — including Germany — committed to plans that will eventually end their use of coal, one of the greatest producers of carbon emissions. Dozens more — from Fiji to Sweden to Costa Rica to New Zealand — promised to make very significant reductions as well. This sounds wonderful but none of these nations produce that much carbon to begin with.
They are dwarfed by the emissions of China (27.2%), the United States (14.6%), and India (6.8%). These are the countries that many activists hope will lead by example. On the bright side, India said that it will more than double its renewable energy capacity by 2022, and China is already pushing the boundaries of solar and wind energy. But neither country set any targets to reduce their use of coal — in fact, new coal plants are still being built today.
And the United States didn't speak at all at the climate summit. (Though nearly half of its states have made their own renewable energy plans.)
The protests continue
It made for plenty of mixed feelings and disappointment among activists. Fortunately, there is a place for people to place their frustrations.
That's because surrounding the UN Climate Summit is a week-long Global Climate Strike. It began on September 20 and is continuing until this Friday. Last week, massive marches were held in about 185 countries. That's nearly all of them! Millions of people participated. And people are focused on making sure that this Friday, September 27 is as memorable a day as any of the days before them.
It's a lot to think about. But these protests will continue to place pressure on nations leading up to another conference in Santiago, Chile in December: the UN COP25. That is when countries detail exactly how they will make their promises a reality. We will be keeping an eye on it, for sure.