Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for climate change activists to stop exploiting children and causing them anxiety to advance their agenda during his United Nations address earlier this week, according to the Daily Wire.
Children and climate change has been a relevant topic recently, with various protests involving groups of children or entire schools, and most notably, 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg emerging as the the face of the movement with her startling and alarmist speeches, including to world leaders at the U.N.
"We must respect and harness the passion and aspiration of our younger generations, we must guard against others who would seek to compound or, worse, facelessly exploit their own agendas," Morrison said. "We must similarly not allow their concerns to be dismissed or diminished as this can also increase their anxiety. Above all, we should let our children be children, let our kids be kids, let our teenagers be teenagers, while we work positively together to deliver the practical solutions for them and their future."
Thunberg, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's (a neurological disorder on the autism spectrum) has become a polarizing figure, with her supporters exalting her as a role model and a hero, and opponents expressing concerns about exploitation and even potential child abuse for the role she has been given in this debate. Thunberg chastised world leaders at the U.N. earlier in the week for their inaction to stop harming the environment.
"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," Thunberg told the assembled leaders. "And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"
The Guardian reported that Thunberg's mother, Malena Ernman, who was an opera singer and actress, was convinced by Thunberg to give up her international opera career because of the environmental effects of flying.