Teenage activist Greta Thunberg has described the UK’s response to climate change as “beyond absurd”.
In a speech to MPs, the Swedish 16-year-old criticised the UK for supporting new exploitation of fossil fuels and exaggerating cuts to carbon emissions.
She was invited to Westminster after inspiring the school climate strikes movement.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said “we have not done nearly enough”.
In her speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Miss Thunberg said the UK was supporting shale gas fracking, greater exploitation of North Sea oil and gas fields and expanding airports.
“This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind,” she said.
She also described the UK’s carbon emissions reduction as the result of “very creative” accounting.
The country’s reported 37% reduction in emissions since 1990 was only 10% when aviation, shipping, imports and exports were counted, she said.
Miss Thunberg said her generation’s future had been “stolen” so that “a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money”.
She told MPs: “You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in the answers that will allow you to carry on as if nothing has happened.”
Mr Gove said that although governments have not done enough to tackle climate change, “in the past few years it has become inescapable that we have to act”.
He said: “The time to act is now, the challenge could not be clearer – Greta, you have been heard.”
Earlier, an empty chair was left for Prime Minister Theresa May as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas met the environmental campaigner for a round-table discussion.
The Westminster leaders of the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, Ian Blackford and Liz Saville Roberts, were also at the meeting. Mrs May was chairing a cabinet meeting and Downing Street said it had received no official request to attend. Read more