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Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg urged the United States Congress to use its common sense on climate change on Thursday.
“All I can do is to urge you to listen to and act on the science, and to use your common sense,” Ms Thunberg said in a virtual speech to the House Oversight Committee.
The young activist demanded more action on the crisis and blasted the American government for continuing to subsidize fossil fuels.
“I’m not even going to explain why we need to make real drastic changes and dramatically lower our emissions in line with available science,” Ms Thunberg said. “It is the year 2021. The fact that we are still having this discussion, and even more, that we are still subsidizing fossil fuels directly or indirectly using taxpayer money, is a disgrace.”
Thursday began a two-day Earth Day summit of virtual testimony on the climate crisis, convened by President Biden. The president got the event started by pledging to cut US greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade.
“The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” Mr Biden said on Thursday.
Ms Thunberg’s remarks went even further. The Swedish teen urged the US government to end fossil fuel subsidies, stop all new extraction of oil and gas, and completely divest from fossil fuel companies.
But even as she recommended these actions, she expressed pessimism that the US would actually take meaningful steps to combat the climate crisis.
“To be honest, I don’t believe for a second that you will actually do this,” she said. “How long do you honestly believe that people in power like you will get away with it?”
Ms Thunberg framed the climate crisis as a historic choice between right and wrong.
“You still have time to do the right thing and to save your legacies,” she said. “But that window of time is not going to last for long. What happens then?”
“We the young people are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books,” she added. “We are the ones who get to decide how you will be remembered. So my advice for you is to choose wisely.”