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Greta Thunberg: 'We need to do so much more,' says teenage climate change activist

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Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg  in Paris, France, July 23, 2019.
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg in Paris, France, July 23, 2019. -
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REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg kicked off the climate Smile for Future conference on Monday.

You can watch the panel discussion in the video player, above.

During the five-day event held in Lausanne, Switzerland, 450 activists from 37 European countries will take part in plenaries and discussions related to climate change, culminating in a "Fridays For Future" strike — also known as "school strike for climate".

Thunberg, 16, kickstarted the school strike movement, which will celebrate its first anniversary later this month, to protest against the Swedish government's climate commitments, which she deemed too low. Since then, strikes have been held over six continents.

At today's discussion, she deplored that despite the year of action, "global emissions haven't gone down", adding: "we need to do so much more."

She went on: "What I'm going to focus on now is to spread public awareness of what's going on because I believe that when people fully realise the situation we're in, they will act."

The activist stressed that "these last months have been very strange. It all happened so fast [...] It's a lot of responsibility, a responsibility that I and this movement shouldn't have."

In mid-August, she is to sail across the Atlantic onboard the Malizia II racing boat in a two-week trip to join the Americas. During her nine-month stay on the American continent, she will attend the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September and the COP25 event in Santiago, Chile, in December.

Thunberg described the upcoming UN summit as "very important". "It's a great opportunity for world leaders to show that they've actually listened to us and to the science."

She also responded to critics who call her "dangerous."

"I think that it is in some way a good sign. It proves that we are actually making a difference and that people feel threatened by us. All we're doing is communicating and acting on the science and I don't understand what's so dangerous about that," she said.

The Fridays For Future movement announced that it was launching a European Citizen Initiative (ECI) which will require a million signatures to be considered by the European Commission.

The ECI calls on the EU member states to pledge to reduce their carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2035. It also demands the bloc does not sign any free trade treaty with countries that do not respect the 1.5°C Paris Agreement goal and that it makes educational material on the effects of climate change available to schools.