In an open letter climateemergencyeu.org also signed by several thousand people, including climate scientists, economists, actors and activists, the 17-year-old called for countries to start treating climate change and ecological breakdown "like an emergency."
The letter was made public ahead of a European Council summit on Friday, where countries in the 27-member EU will try to reach a deal on the bloc's next budget and a recovery package to respond to the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic.
Demands in the letter included an immediate halt to all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, in parallel with a rapid ending of fossil fuel subsidies.
It also called for binding annual "carbon budgets" to limit how much greenhouse gas countries can emit to maximize the chances of capping the rise in average global temperatures at 1.5C, a goal enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
GRETA THUNBERG: We need to see it as, above all, an existential crisis. And as long as it's not being treated as a crisis, we can have as many of these climate change negotiations and talks, conferences as possible. It won't change a thing.
We have to admit that this is not a crisis that we can build ourselves out of or invest or buy or consume or produce, because that is the same approach that got us into this crisis, and we cannot solve it with that same approach. We ought to stay below these targets. We have to make it possible to tear up and abandon valid contracts and deals, and that is not possible within today's system.
The corona pandemic is a crisis, and it needs to be treated as a crisis. And the climate crisis is also a crisis that needs to be treated as a crisis. But I don't think we should compare these two crises. We should be very careful with this.
The coronavirus has, of course, no positive effects on the climate whatsoever despite what people may say. This is a tragedy and nothing else. People are starting to wake up to these things more and more right now.