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'You can't ignore science', teen climate activist Thunberg tells French MPs

Swedish teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg addressed French parliament on 23 July 2019
Swedish teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg addressed French parliament on 23 July 2019 REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Swedish eco-warrior Greta Thunberg has told French MPs that they can ignore her and other child activists, but implored them to listen to scientists about global warming, in an address at the French parliament.

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Some French right-wing MPs criticised the invitation extended to her to speak at Parliament and boycotted her visit. Some dismissed her a “prophetess in shorts” and "Justin Bieber of ecology", prompting the teenager to respond "It seems they are more scared about me...than the actual problem".

Speaking at a conference room in the French parliament on Tuesday, Thunberg continued her rebuke: "We become the bad guys who have to tell people these uncomfortable things because no one else wants to, or dares to," she said in English.

"And just for quoting or acting on these numbers, these scientific facts, we receive unimaginable amounts of hate and threats. We are being mocked and lied about by members of parliament and journalists."

She decried her critics, saying that she is only highlighting the issue of whether temperatures rise globally by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The 16-year-old has lobbied for schoolchildren around the world to go on strike to protest government inaction concerning climate change.

She said that politicians had the right to boycott her speech, but they couldn’t ignore the scientific truth of climate change.

"Some people have chosen not to come here today, some have chosen not to listen to us. And that is fine. We are, after all, just children," said Thunberg. 

"You don't have to listen to us. But you do have to listen to the science. And that is all we ask – to unite behind the science."

She received an invitation from 162 MPs from a group of parties across the political spectrum concerned about climate change called “Let’s Accelerate.”

"What we need is scientific progress and political courage, not apocalyptic gurus," said Republicains MP Guillaume Larrive, who called on MPs to boycott her speech.

He found an ally in Jordan Bardella, a 23-year-old MEP from the far-right National Rally who told French 2 television station that "using children to show a fatalism to try and explain to all young people that the world is finished, that everything is going to catch fire and that nothing is possible."

"It is sad people are so desperate that they make things up," Thurnberg said to French youth news site Konbini before she gave her speech in parliament.

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