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Swedish teen activist tells US Congress to listen to scientists

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Swedish girl, 16, urges US Congress to listen to scientists and take action on crisis

WASHINGTON : Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has inspired a global movement for climate change, delivered a strong message to US lawmakers on Wednesday: "Wake up."

Wrapping up a six-day visit to Washington, 16-year-old Greta rallied a room full of Democratic lawmakers and activists.

"This is not the time and place for dreams. This is the time to wake up," Greta said at the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee room.

She spent the day in Congress and on the steps of the Supreme Court, lending her star power to join activists drumming up attention and support ahead of a global climate strike today.

She began with a pointed message before a US congressional hearing: "I don't want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists."

Greta, founder of the Fridays For Futureschool walkouts to demand government climate change action, submitted a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the hearing in lieu of testimony.

Greta urged lawmakers to "unite behind the science" and take action, saying people need to treat climate change "like the existential crisis it is".

She was one of four students invited to a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment and the Select Committee on Climate Crisis.

Last Friday, in front of the White House, she had encouraged fellow young activists to keep fighting to be heard.

She did not mention US President Donald Trump, a climate change denier who moved to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement.

On Wednesday, she called out the US for being the "biggest carbon polluter in history".

"And yet you are also the only nation who has signalled with strong intention to leave the Paris agreement because it was a bad deal for the US," she said.

Mr Trump had earlier announced plans to revoke California's ability to set emissions standards for vehicles that are stricter than federal standards.

Greta also spoke to Republican lawmakers at the hearing.

While Republicans praised the students for raising awareness about climate change, they disagreed over what the US should do.

Republican Garret Graves from Louisiana said his state was affected by rising sea levels but said that "signing on to an agreement... that allows for China to have a 50 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030 is inappropriate."

In response, Greta said that in Sweden, people criticise the US for not taking enough action.

"The same argument is being used against you," she said. - REUTERS