Greta Thunberg speech: French MPs boycott teen ‘apocalypse guru’


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Media captionGreta Thunberg told French lawmakers to “listen to the science” of climate change

Teen activist Greta Thunberg has lashed out at French lawmakers for mocking her in a speech to parliament that was boycotted by far-right politicians.

The 16-year-old addressed legislators on Tuesday, telling them to “unite behind the science” of climate change.

She and other children were invited to France’s parliament by a cross-party group of politicians.

“You don’t have to listen to us, but you do have to listen to the science,” she said.

Ms Thunberg, whose solo protest outside the Swedish Parliament inspired the school climate strike movement, has been lauded for her emotive speeches to politicians.

But lawmakers from French parties, including the conservative Republicans and far-right National Rally, said they would shun her speech in the National Assembly.

Urging his colleagues to boycott Ms Thunberg’s speech, leadership candidate for The Republicans, Guillaume Larrive, wrote on Twitter: “We do not need gurus of the apocalypse.”

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Image caption Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists stand with En Marche politician Matthieu Orphelin

Other French legislators hurled insults at Ms Thunberg ahead of her speech, calling her a “prophetess in shorts” and the “Justin Bieber of ecology”.

Republicans MP Julien Aubert, who is also contending for his party’s leadership, suggested Ms Thunberg should win a “Nobel Prize for Fear”.

Speaking to France 2 television, Jordan Bardella, an MEP for the National Rally, equated Ms Thunberg’s campaigning efforts to a “dictatorship of perpetual emotion”.

Members of other parties, such as the Greens and French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist En Marche, were more supportive of her appearance.

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Media captionEnvironmental activist Greta Thunberg says climate change is ‘an existential crisis’

In her speech, Ms Thunberg responded to her critics and restated her demands for urgent action from governments to curb carbon emissions.

Speaking in English, Ms Thunberg said children like her have become “the bad guys” for daring to tell politicians “uncomfortable things” about climate change.

“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 added.

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Image caption Ms Thunberg delivered her speech at a French parliamentary committee in Paris

The teenager sparked an international youth movement after she staged a “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish Parliament in August last year.

Since then she has met the Pope and addressed the European Parliament, shaming politicians for what she sees as inaction on climate change.

Ms Thunberg has been harshly attacked by journalists and trolls on Twitter, but politicians usually use more measured rhetoric when criticising her.

Green MPs rebuked the coarse tone of the criticism from French lawmakers. “Larrive and Aubert are playing an internal game on the back of the battle against climate change,” said Delphine Batho, head of the Generation Ecology party.

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