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World leaders' talk on climate change is 'blah blah blah,' says Greta Thunberg

"This is all we hear from our so-called leaders -- words, words that sound great but so far, has led to no action or hopes and dreams."

World leaders' talk on climate change is 'blah blah blah,' says Greta Thunberg
Cover Image Source: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivers a speech during the opening plenary of the Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition event on September 28, 2021, in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

Swedish climate and environmental activist Greta Thunberg mocked the world's "so-called leaders" during a speech at a youth climate summit in Italy on Tuesday. Speaking at Milan's Youth4Climate summit, the 18-year-old accused politicians of failing to act on climate change, saying that their climate action promises in the 30 years since the landmark Earth Summit had amounted to "blah, blah, blah." Thunberg pointed out that the climate crisis was continuing to escalate despite countries around the world vowing to meet "ambitious targets." Listing off various slogans and promises put forth by leaders, the teen said they were nothing more than empty words and unfulfilled promises.


"When I say climate change, what do you think of? I think jobs. Green jobs. Green jobs," Thunberg said, referencing Biden's speeches on the climate crisis, reports CNN. She also resurfaced a 2018 speech given by French President Emmanuel Macron, who while calling on countries to "work together" to reduce carbon emissions and save the planet, warned Congress that there "is no planet B." Addressing an audience of an estimated 400 activists between the ages of 15 and 29 on Tuesday, Thunberg said: "We must find a smooth transition towards a low carbon economy. There is no Planet B. There is no Planet Blah. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."


The young activist also used soundbites from UK Prime Minister Johnson, such as "expensive bunny hugging" and "build back better", to highlight what she called "empty words and promises" of politicians. "This is not about some expensive, politically correct dream at the bunny hugging or blah, blah, blah. Build back better, blah, blah, blah. Green economy, blah, blah, blah," Thunberg said. "Net-zero, blah, blah, blah. Climate-neutral, blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders -- words, words that sound great but so far, has led to no action or hopes and dreams. Empty words and promises."


"Our hopes and dreams drown in their empty words and promises," she added, encouraging world leaders to find a "smooth transition towards a low-carbon economy." The activists at the youth summit will come up with a list of recommendations for ministers to consider this week in a final high-level meeting before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in Glasgow in November. During the meeting — chaired by COP26 President Alok Sharma — ministers are expected to try and align their positions on issues on the Glasgow agenda, including putting an end date on the use of coal and who should pay what to assist the Global South in its transition to low-carbon economies.


Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate also spoke at the summit, telling attendees that the developing world was still waiting on the rich world to make good on its climate finance promises. "There is far too little evidence of the $100 billion per year that was promised to help climate-vulnerable countries to meet this challenge. But those funds were promised to arrive by 2020 and we are still waiting," Nakate said, pointing out that Africa pollutes very little but is on the front line of the climate crisis. "You cannot adapt to lost cultures, traditions, and history. You cannot adapt to starvation. It's time for leaders to put loss and damage at the center of the climate negotiations."


"It's time to show us the money. It's time, it's time, it's time," she said before breaking down in tears after sharing that she had recently witnessed police removing a body from floodwaters in Uganda. Speaking to BBC about Thunberg's speech, Italy's climate minister, Roberto Cingolani, said he accepts the young activist's criticism as she raised "a serious problem, we were not credible in the past." He stated that while her language may have been provocative, her "message was correct, we didn't do enough." Referencing Nakate's speech, Cingolani added: "If you put the two messages together - social inequality, global inequality, climate vulnerability... and on the other hand, the lack of attention in the past, the message is complete. This is what we are trying to do now, to improve."


Cingolani explained that COP26 must "seriously reinforce financial aid" to vulnerable countries, accelerate the phasing out of carbon and coal, and strive to keep global temperatures at the 1.5C threshold. However, he warned that the global population's attitude would also have to change. "It's too easy to say we make everything green, but we don't want the power station in our back yard and we don't care about other countries having no access to free electricity. I think this is more serious," he said.

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