“The climate and ecological crisis has never once been treated as a crisis,” Ms Thunberg and several others wrote in an article for The Guardian marking two years since her first solo school strike.
“The gap between what we need to do and what’s actually being done is widening by the minute,” the group added.
On Thursday, Ms Thunberg and other organisers within the school strike movement met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany is currently president of the European Council.
At Thursday’s meeting, Ms Thunberg, Germany’s Luisa Neubauer, and Belgium’s Anuna de Wever and Adélaïde Charlier presented Ms Merkel with an open letter that was sent to European leaders last month, as well as a petition with close to 125,000 signatories.
The demands of the letter include halting investment in fossil fuel exploration and extraction and ending all subsidies for the industry.
They also want annual and binding carbon budgets that don’t “depend on assumptions of possible future negative emissions technologies”, future “technology” has been a big part of Australia’s conservative Liberal-National government’s recent plans on climate “mitigation”.
The group also wants “ecocide” made an international crime, and threw in a few other non-climate demands such as the safeguarding and protection of democracy and a consideration to reduce economic, racial and gender inequality in the design of climate policies that also “protect workers and the most vulnerable”.
“We understand and know very well that the world is complicated and that what we are asking for may not be easy,” the letter reads.
“The changes necessary to safeguard humanity may seem very unrealistic. But it is much more unrealistic to believe that our society would be able to survive the global heating we’re heading for, as well as other disastrous ecological consequences of today’s business as usual?.”
The letter also argues that Europe in particular “has the economic and political possibility”, as well as a moral responsibility, to lead the way on climate action.
European leaders already committed to doing that at the United Nations sponsored Paris Agreement, but the organisers say they now “need to actually deliver on your promises”.
The organisers write that the world is still in “a state of denial” even as world leaders speak of an “existential crisis” at multiple panels and summits around the world.
“Effectively, we have lost another two crucial years to political inaction,” the organisers wrote.
They added emissions need to be reduced and then offset as quickly as possible, and while many acknowledge that, “it’s a fact that most people refuse to accept”.
“Just the thought of being in a crisis that we cannot buy, build or invest our way out of seems to create some kind of collective short circuit.”
“This mix of ignorance, denial and unawareness is at the very heart of the problem. As it is now, we can have as many meetings and climate conferences as we want.
“They will not lead to sufficient changes, because the willingness to act and the level of awareness needed are still nowhere in sight. The only way forward is for society to start treating the crisis like a crisis,” the organisers wrote.
They said the recent COVID-19 pandemic has shown what that looks like and that it is possible.
“?During this tragedy, we are seeing how many, not all, world leaders and people around the world stepped up and acted for the greater good of society.
“It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business, nor finance.”
The eventual recovery from the pandemic is likely going to require government spending and investment on a grand scale, and many groups have called for that spending to focus on transitioning to a “green economy”.
The Australia government’s “Technology Roadmap” is reliant on gas to help transition away from coal, while building a better hydro industry is also in the plan.
The Liberal-National government plans to “drive investment in low emissions technologies to strengthen our economy and support jobs and businesses”, and that is a “key priority” in the country’s road out of the pandemic.
Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland still got more than 70 per cent of their power from coal last year.