Greta Thunberg: “Sweden is not a Role Model”

We Don’t Have Time
4 min readAug 24, 2018
Greta’s school refusal has attracted enormous media attention.

15-year-old Greta Thunberg sits down outside the Swedish parliament every day until the Swedish election — for the climate. Here is her own strong and apprehensive text about the climate crisis and our ineptitude to deal with it:

I want to feel safe.

When I walk home late at night.

When I sit on the subway.

When I sleep at night.

But I don’t feel safe.

How am I supposed to feel safe when I know that we are facing the most acute crisis in the history of mankind? When I know that if we don’t act now, everything will soon be too late?

The first time I heard about global warming, I thought: that can’t be right, no way there is something serious enough to threaten our very existence.

Because otherwise, we would not be talking about anything else. As soon as you turn on the TV, everything would be about this issue. Headlines, radio, newspapers. You would never read or hear about anything else.

As if a world war was raging.

But in fact, no one was talking…

And if they did, it was never in line with the scientists’ statements. The other day I watched a debate between party leaders on TV and saw how they were allowed to stand there and lie. They said it made no sense to make an effort to curb Sweden’s emissions, since we were such a “role model”. That we should focus on “helping” other countries to cut their emissions.

Greta (blue sweater), her supporters and a reporter from The Guardian.

Sweden is not a role model. The people of Sweden yearly emits 11 tonnes of CO2 per capita. We’re on eighth place in the world according to WWF.

We’re the ones who need help.

I don’t understand how they can be allowed to lie like that on TV.

Maybe many grown-ups think the issue of climate change is difficult to understand? Maybe that’s why, whenever there’s a television program about the climate, it turns into children’s television? I grasped the issue of climate change when I was 12 and decided to never fly again, nor eat meat.

The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. Yet everyone believes that we can solve the crisis without effort, without sacrifice.

”Think positive!” everybody says.

As if the passengers on Titanic, after the collision with the ice berg, would have sat down to talk about what stories the survivors could tell and how famous they would be. Or the number of jobs that would be created in the effort to help the survivors.

However, the ship would have sunk anyway, no matter their actions. We can, on the other hand, stop the collision. We know the ice berg is there. We even know its exact coordinates. But we’re not slowing down, nor are we changing course. And so we praise ourselves, perhaps, for having managed to unload some weight. While increasing the speed.

Will we slow down in time?

If I live to be 100 I will be alive in the year 2103.

When you think about “the future” today, you don’t think beyond the year 2050. By then I will, in the best case, not even have lived half my life. What happens next?

The year 2078 I will celebrate my 75th anniversary. If I have children and grandchildren they may want to celebrate that day with me. Maybe I will tell them about you? How do you want to be remembered?

What you do or don’t do, right now, will affect my entire life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren. Maybe they’ll ask why you did nothing, and why those who knew and could speak out, didn’t.

Greta Thunberg, 15 year-old, refusing school for the climate outside the Swedish parliament. Read about here protest here.

The above text is written by Greta Thunberg and translated from Swedish by We Don’t Have Time. It is published with Greta Thunberg’s approval.

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