Climate Activist Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘How Long Do You Believe People in Power Will Get Away with It?’

Oversight Committee / YouTube

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg lashed out at members of Congress at a House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment hearing on Thursday, telling representatives they won’t get away with ignoring the so-called climate crisis.

“I know I’m not the one who is supposed to ask questions here but there is something I really do wonder,” Thunberg, who is 18, said. “How long do you honestly believe that people in power like you will get away with it?”

“How long do you think you can continue to ignore the climate crisis, the global aspect of equity, and historic emissions without being held accountable,” Thunberg said.

The activist, who refused to fly to the United States to attend a United Nations climate change summit in 2019 and instead traveled in a sailboat made, in part, from fossil fuel products, went on to say young people like her will be in charge of politicians’ legacies. 

“You get away with it now, but sooner or later, people are going to realize what you have been doing all this time,” Thunberg said. “That’s inevitable. You still have time to do the right thing and save your legacies.”

“But that window of time is not going to last for long,” Thunberg said. “What happens then?”

“We the young people are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books,’ Thunberg said. “We are the ones who get to decide how you will be remembered.”

“So my advice to you is choose wisely,” Thunberg said.

The hearing focused on how tax benefits to fossil fuel entities are hampering the fight against climate change and should be abolished. Only one witness on the five-person panel at the hearing represented the fossil fuel sector and its stakeholders.

Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of Policy, Economics, and Regulatory Affairs of the American Petroleum Institute, took blistering questions from Democrats who support stripping tax benefits from fossil fuel entities in President Joe Biden’s plan, promoted as infrastructure legislation.

Thunberg called the need for the hearing “a disgrace.”

“The fact we are still having this discussion, and even more, that we are still subsidizing fossil fuels directly or indirectly using taxpayer money is a disgrace,’ Thunberg said.

Thunberg gained the spotlight several years ago when she founded Fridays for Future urging young people to leave school and protest on Fridays to advance the climate change agenda.

“The simple fact and uncomfortable fact is that if we are to live up to our promises and commitments in the Paris Agreement, we have to end fossil fuel subsidies, stop new exploration and extraction, completely divest from fossil fuels, and keep the carbon in the ground,” Thunberg said.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.