Swedish activist Greta Thunberg urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel "to be brave enough to think long-term" in a meeting on Thursday where they discussed the climate crisis and measures to fight global warming.
During a 90-minute conversation in the chancellery, Merkel explained her climate policy priorities for Germany's European Union presidency, the goal of achieving EU climate neutrality by 2050 and interim targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a government spokesman said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Thunberg said Merkel had been nice and very friendly, but that the chancellor had a great responsibility and huge opportunity to become a world leader in the fight against climate change.
"What it comes down to is that we all start to treat the climate crisis like we treat any other crisis," Thunberg said, adding that she and her fellow activists had asked Merkel to tackle climate change with more urgency.
"What we want is leaders. We want people to step up, to dare to step out of their comfort zones, to prioritize the future ahead of us now and to be brave enough to think long-term," she said.
Thunberg was joined by fellow members of the Fridays for Future campaign group, among them Luisa Neubauer.
"She at least confirmed that she is willing to get stuff done during the presidency," Neubauer said. "Yet eventually, at the end of the day, it's about common budgets, it's about very clear targets, it's about numbers and figures and that we need action, more than really nice and big words."
The government spokesman said Merkel and the activists agreed that global warming posed a challenge for the world and that industrialized countries had a special responsibility to tackle it.
"The basis for this is the consistent implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement," the spokesman said.
The German government admitted earlier this week that it would have missed its climate target for 2020 if the economic havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic had not caused a large drop in greenhouse gas emissions.