Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a climate protest outside the White House in Washington, DC on September 13, 2019. - Thunberg, 16, has spurred teenagers and students around the world to strike from school every Friday under the rallying cry "Fridays for future" to call on adults to act now to save the planet. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

Greta Thunberg manifests in front of the White House.

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The 16-year-old Swede, who arrived in New York at the end of August, was the star of a first “school strike” in Washington, in which about a hundred young people took part.

Without a word on Donald Trump, the young Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg participated Friday in a small demonstration of young people on climate in front of the White House, outside the grids, before several weeks of mobilization in the United States and the ‘UN.

“Never give up,” said the activist at the end of the demonstration, addressing a few seconds to the few hundred young people who had gathered with the White House in the background. “We will continue, and see you next week, September 20th.”

The 16-year-old Swedish girl, who arrived in New York at the end of August, was the star of this first gathering in the US capital, but she stayed behind, telling reporters who wanted to tell her that she did not want to be the center of the attention – exactly as she did in New York two weeks ago.

  • “Thanks, Greta”

Surrounded by students and students chanting at the top of their voices “More coal, more oil, leave the carbon in the ground!”, She timidly articulated the songs, in an inaudible voice, with the hand his famous sign “Skolstrejk för Klimatet “: school strike for the climate.

When the young leaders who organized the event asked her to join them at the microphone, she politely did no head back. Then she walked in silence, exchanging a few words with other young people, and accepting some selfies.

Finally, one of the high school girls, Kallan Benson, asked her if she wanted to speak at the end, and “Greta”, in the sabbatical year, took the megaphone briefly. “I will not make speeches, I just want to say my gratitude to all of you, I’m proud of you. There are more people than I thought, “said the high school girl.

In the crowd, a person had brought a sign in Swedish and English: “Thank you, Greta!” Another said, “As Greta says.”

  • So small and “so big”

Greta Thunberg is not as well known in the United States as in Europe, but her six-day visit to Washington will be marked by several honors, with a prize awarded by Amnesty International on Monday and a congressional hearing on 18 September. at the invitation of elected Democrats.

“She’s a great leader,” says 15-year-old Kallan Benson, “but it’s sad that we have to play on people’s celebrity, and put so much pressure on a teenager.” This protective feeling was expressed by other young people … especially when the cameras were trying to get closer to the Swede.

“Journalists are really annoying not to let her show up like everyone else,” says 18-year-old Georgetown University international politics student Cleary Waldo. Adding: “I was surprised to see that she was so small, so she is such a great person. It is all the more impressive.

  • Message to Donald Trump

So far, Greta Thunberg has not talked much about Donald Trump. Disembarking on a sailboat, she simply said, “My message to (Donald Trump) is ‘listen to science’ but clearly, it does not do it.”

But she is a catalyst for obvious mobilization. Greta Thunberg began her school strike at her home in Stockholm in August 2018 and gave birth to a global movement of young people who dry the courses on Friday, to challenge the opinion on the urgency of climate action. The United States followed slowly. Kallan imitated it from last December.

For the next big strike, September 20, New York City has blessed students who want to participate. The Trump government is deaf to these arrests.

The administration has announced multiple deregulations since 2017, on antipollution standards for vehicles, coal-fired power plants, offshore oil drilling, the protection of waterways, and even the maintenance of incandescent bulbs, very greedy in electricity.

The climate position of the United States, like that of other countries, will be denounced at UN youth and member state summits from 21 to 23 September. Throughout this period, Greta Thunberg will remain ubiquitous, in the street and probably among the heads of state and government, who never seemed to impress her.

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