Greta Thunberg slams ‘hollow words’ from governments

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg opened the Youth Climate Summit by criticizing three decades of government inaction, accusing world leaders of “dumping” future generations with “empty words and promises.”

Speaking weeks before the United Nations emergency climate meeting in Glasgow, Thunberg accused governments of “shamelessly congratulating themselves” on inadequate pledges to cut emissions and promises of financing.

The 18-year-old threw the leaders’ words in their face, revealing to delegates at the Youth4Climate event in Milan the gulf between words and deeds.

“There is no Planet B, there is no Planet B blah, blah, blah,” Thunberg said to thunderous applause.

Echoing a speech by Boris Johnson, host of the COP26 summit in April, she continued, “It’s not about some politically expensive rabbit-hugging dream, or rebuilding better, blah blah blah, green economy, blah blah blah, net zero by 2050. , blah blah blah, climate neutral blah blah blah.

“That is all we hear from our so-called leaders: words, words that sound wonderful but have so far led no action, and our hopes and dreams are drowned out in their words and empty promises,” said Ms Thunberg.

The three-day event in Italy brings together around 400 young activists from nearly 200 countries, who will present a joint declaration to a ministerial meeting at the weekend as an introduction to COP26 in November in Glasgow.

“Our leaders’ willful lack of action is a betrayal of all present and future generations,” she said.

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She said governments were “unabashedly congratulating themselves while still failing to provide long-awaited funding” to developing countries.

Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate echoed Thunberg’s indignation at the leaders’ lack of urgency.

“How long should children sleep hungry because their farms have washed away, because their crops have dried up due to harsh weather conditions?” I asked the audience.

“How long do we have to watch them die of thirst and gasp for air in floods? World leaders are watching this happen and they are allowing this to continue.”

Vanessa Nackett cries after her speech while Greta Thunberg comforts her at the top

COP26 is considered vital to the continued viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which saw countries commit to limiting global temperature rise to “well below” 2°C.

The historic deal aims for a safer maximum warming of 1.5°C.

But six years after the agreement was struck, countries have yet to agree on how it will operate on the ground.

Among the long-awaited and still pending issues for COP26 is how to account for each country’s carbon cuts, as well as how to finance the fight against climate change.

Countries already reeling from severe floods, droughts and storms caused by rising sea levels called on developed countries at COP26 to fulfill their decade-old promise of $100 billion annually to help them recover and adapt.

“It is time for developed countries to make good on their promise of money to support developing countries dealing with the increasing impact of climate change,” Alok Sharma, President of COP26 told delegates.

The UK says it wants the Glasgow summit to keep the 1.5°C target viable, specifically by pursuing a global agreement to phase out coal power.

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But the United Nations said this month that the latest round of countries’ plans to cut emissions still put the Earth on course for a “catastrophic” 2.7C warming.

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