Even as 500,000 March in Madrid, Greta Thunberg Warns Climate Movement Has 'Achieved Nothing' Until Emissions Fall

As Greta Thunberg and other activists spoke at a rally, an estimated 500,000 people took part in a climate justice protest in Madrid on Friday, December 6, 2019. (Photo: @GretaThunberg)

"We cannot afford more days going by without real action being taken."

By Andrea Germanos - 06. December 2019

Before taking part in a 500,000-strong climate march in Madrid, teen activist Greta Thunberg spoke plainly yet forcefully Friday about the impact the global climate strike movement has had thus far and reiterated the demand of the climate justice movement for global leaders to act with the urgency the planet's ecological emergency mandates.

Speaking to reporters at the cultural center La Casa Encendida in Madrid, Spain—where COP 25 is underway—Thunberg called herself "just... a climate activist—a small part of a big movement" that needs even more activists to effect change.

Global delegates attending the UN Climate Change Conference, Thunberg said, must heed the young marchers' call and commit to real action.

"I sincerely hope that the COP 25 will lead to something concrete and that will lead to also an increase in awareness among people in general." She said she hopes that those in power "grasp the urgency of the climate crisis because right now it doesn't seem like they are."

As such, the global Fridays for Future movement will continue sounding the alarm, said Thunberg.

"I know that we will do everything we can to make sure that this is something that cannot be ignored anymore, that they cannot just hide away anymore," Thunberg said. Some world leaders "are afraid of change," she said, but the status quo must be disrupted.

"Some people want everything to continue like now, and change is what we young people are bringing. And that's why they are trying to silence us. But that is just proof that we are having an impact, that our voices are being heard," Thunberg said, and is the reason powerful opponents "try so desperately to silence us."

Thunberg suggested that COP 25 may be viewed "as a kind of middle year," with next year's COP 26 seen as "the big event."

"But we cannot afford middle years," the Swedish teen said. "We cannot afford more days going by without real action being taken." COP 25, said Thunberg, mustn't be brushed off "because every chance we get to improve the situation we must take."

Speaking more about the school strike for climate actions—which have drawn millions of young people to the streets worldwide—Thunberg said the model is simply not sustainable.


"We have been striking now for over a year and still, basically, nothing has happened," said Thunberg. "The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power and we cannot go on like this. It is not a sustainable solution that children skip school."

The strikers, Thunberg said, "don't want to continue. We would love some action from the people in power... because people are suffering and dying from the climate and ecological emergency today and we cannot wait any longer."

A lot has been achieved, added Thunberg. "We have have raised public awareness and we have created opinion and that is a big step in the right direction. But of course it's nowhere near enough."

"The CO2 emissions aren't reducing. They are in fact increasing," Thunberg continued, "so of course there is no victory because the only thing we want to see is real action and real action has not been happening. So of course we have achieved a lot," she added, "but if you look at it from a certain point of view we have achieved nothing."

Thunberg and other climate activists brought their demand for climate justice to the streets of Madrid later on Friday, a protest Fridays for Future Germany said showed that "The climate justice movement is bigger and closer than ever."

Madrid is crowded for the #COP25 demonstration. We won't turn our back to leaders stealing our future by ignoring the climate crisis. The climate justice movement is bigger and closer than ever! #WeAreUnstoppable pic.twitter.com/2gLKR5DVVG

— Fridays For Future Germany (@FridayForFuture) December 6, 2019

In a tweet from the march and rally, Thunberg said the marchers may have numbered as many as half a million—a figure echoed by Greenpeace Germany.

School strike week 68. They say more than 500 000 people showed up tonight in Madrid!#fridaysforfuture #climatestrike #schoolstrike4climate #cop25 pic.twitter.com/YAxPZt3fOU

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 6, 2019

Breaking! 500.000 are protesting for #climatejustice in #Madrid. Leaders at #COP25, listen to the people, not polluters! Do your job, you have a planet to save #FridaysForFuture #COPForFuture (photo by Pedro Armestre/@greenpeace_esp) pic.twitter.com/Xc8SbPEzIX

— Greenpeace e.V. (@greenpeace_de) December 6, 2019

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Extinction Rebellion occupies Zara on Madrid’s Gran Via – ‘Greenwashing is a COP out – Green words, toxic truths’

By Extinction Rebellion - 04. December 2019

Around 30 Extinction Rebellion activists have today occupied Zara on Gran Via, with people glued on to the windows inside the store. People are holding banners saying ‘Green words, toxic truth’ outside Zara which is part of INDITEX group – one of the world’s largest fashion retailers – to highlight how corporates are using greenwashing strategies in the face of the climate and ecological emergency. 

Zara has been chosen for today’s action as it currently is attempting to greenwash with its window displays that ‘demonstrate’ its social commitment to the motto of COP 25: ’Time to act’. 

The fast fashion industry is the second most polluting sector on the planet – with a carbon footprint more than international flights and shipping combined. It uses 20% of water resources and emits 10% of CO2 worldwide, with its impact highly damaging in the countries of the Global South in particular, both environmentally and socially. 

Ultimatum for humankind: Time has all but run out

Madrid’s COP25 represents a true ultimatum for humankind and all ecosystems: time has all but run out to avert the worst of the catastrophe our planet faces. 

In the face of such unimaginable carnage, which scientists have been warning about for over four decades, the only viable option is for massive, peaceful and democratic mobilisation to demand immediate change, not just individual action. 24 years on from the first COP, the summit’s cause has become more crucial than ever. 

Yet global commitment is criminally absent. Goals set out by previous COPs, including Paris’ COP 21 celebrated agreement, and ignored in a stubborn and suicidal pursuit of business as usual. A mere 16 countries out of the 195 which signed the Paris Agreement are complying with it. Meanwhile, the Amazon, Siberia, the Arctic and Koalas burn.

Come get involved with Extinction Rebellion during COP25

Extinction Rebellion has found its home during this COP25 at the UGT, Calle Hortaleza, 88 in Madrid, where there are events and representatives from a host of other movements and organizations including Fridays for Future and Ecologistas en Accion. 

Spain is currently hosting rebels from as many as 19 countries and six continents and tt is expected that throughout these two important weeks, rebels will fill the streets, crowd Madrid’s plazas, inviting onlookers to join the rebellion for life, as other capitals act in solidarity. 

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.