Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg criticized world leaders on Tuesday in a speech in Milan, Italy, calling all their talk of climate action nothing more than “blah blah blah.”
Speaking at the Youth4Climate conference, the 18-year-old activist slammed U.S. President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron, for delivering the world nothing but empty words and false promises.
“Build back better, blah, blah, blah. Green economy, blah, blah, blah. Net zero, blah, blah, blah. Climate neutral, blah, blah, blah,” she said, imitating the world leaders are their climate change plan titles.
“This is all we hear from our so-called leaders: words,” Greta Thunberg said. “Words that sound great but so far, has led to no action or hopes and dreams. Empty words and promises.”
Fears escalated after a U.N. climate report alleged that the world was facing “code red for humanity,” and that the pledges made to cut emissions have done very little so far to curb back the massive levels of greenhouse gases and fossil fuel emissions that enter our atmosphere each day.
The report, written by a team of scientists for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was brought forward by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He said that immediate, large-scale action would have to rapidly take place, and way before most countries’ deadlines of 2050.
“We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is,” Greta Thunberg said in Milan. “Hope is not passive. Hope is not blah blah blah. Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action.”
“So-called leaders have cherry picked young people to meetings like this to pretend they are listening to us, but they are not listening,” Greta Thunberg said. “Change is not only possible but necessary, but not if we go on like we have until today.”
According to the BBC, analysts argue that China’s plan to not build any more coal plants overseas, or America’s plan to cut emissions by 30% by 2030 are signs of policy in the right direction. But critics maintain that these baby steps are nowhere near enough to deal with the massive problem at hand.
In the U.S., President Joe Biden has done very little since the disastrous setbacks of Donald Trump’s administration, which experts allege would have actually increased emissions over the course of a second term. Biden has rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and set many goals to reduce CO2 and methane emissions by 2050, but plans and achievements are very different things.
Recent events such as Covid-19, the conflict in Afghanistan, a crisis on the border from thousands of Haitian refugees, raging California wild fires, and the devastation from Hurricane Ida, have completely taken up the President’s time.
Likewise in the U.K., the BBC claims that Boris Johnson’s plans to cut 78% of emissions by 2035 are only expected to reach under a quarter of what was promised within the current trajectory.
World leaders are set to converge once more to discuss climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. Greta Thunberg and the Youth4Climate conference in Milan are currently drafting their demands and criticisms ahead of the summit.
One of their asks is an end date for the use of coal, while another is for world leaders to decide who will help underdeveloped countries in their transition to net-zero economies. According to activists in Uganda, the millions that they were once promised to finance climate initiatives still have yet to arrive.