Greta Thunberg: don't dump climate crisis on children to fix

World political leaders must step up on the environment, activist tells Venice film festival showing of documentary about her

The Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has called for more action to be taken to address the climate crisis, which she says has slipped dangerously off the political agenda.

Thunberg appeared by video link at the Venice film festival where the film, I Am Greta, has been screened. It documents her life as one of the most famous teenagers in the world after she became the figurehead for a global climate crisis campaign.

She said: “Yes, we need more science. We need to do more research, definitely. But what we need above all is to take take action to change the social landscape, political action, so maybe that’s where I can be most useful.”

Thunberg said that the Covid-19 crisis had shown that world leaders were incapable of dealing with two emergencies at once, and said that climate change should be treated with urgency. “All other things have had to be put on hold. We definitely need to realise the urgency of the climate crisis, and treat it as a crisis, because otherwise we will not be able to achieve real change,” she said.

She went on to criticise world leaders, saying too much responsibility was being placed on children to raise awareness of the climate crisis. “We should not be the ones having to do this. It should be up to adults and people in power in those who have caused this problem in the first place.”

Watch a clip from I Am Greta

During the making of the film, Thunberg was followed by documentary film-maker Nathan Grossman, who recorded her everyday life after she rose to fame for her climate activism. She said at times during the year-long process she thought Grossman’s one-man setup was “unprofessional” but, ultimately, she was pleased with the way he had portrayed her as a “shy nerd”.

Thunberg added: “I think [Grossman] succeeded in framing me as myself and not the angry, naive child who sits in the United Nations General Assembly screaming at world leaders. Because that’s not the person I am.”

The activist said there had been too much focus on her as an individual, and she hoped the film could be a “bridge” for people who wanted to know more about the climate emergency. She hoped the film would help to “increase momentum” and spread awareness at a time when protesting and activism have been reduced because of Covid-19 restrictions around the world.

Thunberg added that it was symbolic to have the film screened in Venice, a city that suffered severe flooding in 2019 that its mayor blamed on climate change.

The activist signed off from the press conference to go to school in Sweden. In August, Thunberg announced she was returning to the classroom after taking a year off to protest.


Lanre Bakare in Venice

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'Time to rebel': Greta Thunberg adds voice to new song by the 1975
On band’s latest single, 16-year-old activist urges young people to act on climate emergency

Laura Snapes

24, Jul, 2019 @11:00 PM

Article image
Meet generation Greta: young climate activists around the world
They’re too young to vote, but schoolchildren across the globe are taking matters into their own hands

Anna Turns

28, Jun, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Final Account review – German war testimonies chill the blood
Soldiers, accountants, children … Luke Holland persuaded elderly Germans to account for what they did under Nazi rule, and the air of shrugging unrepentance is damning

Xan Brooks

03, Sep, 2020 @12:30 PM

Article image
Greta Thunberg hopes to join climate protests during London visit
Swedish 16-year-old, who is taking campaign to parliament, keen to be part of Extinction Rebellion action

Jonathan Watts

19, Apr, 2019 @10:58 AM

Article image
Greta Thunberg in Twitter spat with German rail firm
Deutsche Bahn says activist’s tweet implied she had not been offered a seat on journey home

Kate Connolly in Berlin

15, Dec, 2019 @6:51 PM

Article image
Greta Thunberg takes part in her last school strike for climate
As activist graduates from school, she says she will still protest on Fridays as ‘fight has only just begun’

Tobi Thomas

10, Jun, 2023 @10:36 AM

Article image
Venice film festival 2020 roundup – against all the odds, a triumph
The hot ticket was a Pedro Almodóvar short – but who will most impress Cate Blanchett’s Golden Lion jury?

Jonathan Romney

12, Sep, 2020 @3:00 PM

Article image
Tilda Swinton: gender-neutral acting awards 'inevitable'
In Venice this week, Swinton joined Cate Blanchett in approving Berlin film festival’s removal of gender categories in prizes

Lanre Bakare

03, Sep, 2020 @10:44 AM

Article image
Venice becomes first major film festival to return after coronavirus lockdown
Festival reveals 2020 line-up for physical event, with Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland one of eight films by female directors to compete for the Golden Lion

Andrew Pulver

28, Jul, 2020 @1:48 PM

Article image
Greta Thunberg tells world leaders to end fossil fuel ‘madness’
Failure to end investment ‘would be a betrayal against life itself’, say climate activists

Damian Carrington Environment editor

10, Jan, 2020 @1:03 PM