Speaking at the Youth4Climate event on Sep. 28, Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg lambasted global leaders for their "empty words and promises" in her opening speech.
"They've now had 30 years of blah blah blah"
"This is not all about some expensive politically correct green act of ‘bunny hugging, blah, blah, blah,'" said Thunberg, taking aim at UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson who used the term "bunny hugging" in his speech at the Leader's Summit on Climate in April 2021.
Quoting buzz words from speeches made by French President Emmanuel Macron and the U.S. President Joe Biden, Thunberg also said in her speech:
"Build back better, blah, blah, blah. Green economy, blah, blah, blah. Net zero by 2050, blah, blah, blah. Net zero, blah, blah, blah. Climate neutral, blah, blah, blah."
The 18-year-old added that these words and promises from global leaders "sound great" but have led to "no action" so far.
She then questioned: "Of course, we need constructive dialogue but they've now had 30 years of blah, blah, blah, and where has that led us?"
Explaining why she's skeptical about global leaders' will to act, Thunberg reminded the world that carbon emissions are still rising despite the promises made since the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) held in 1995.
"Global [carbon] emissions are expected to rise by 16 per cent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels," she added.
"Hope is not blah, blah, blah"
Despite this, there is still hope for the climate and Thunberg said:
"We can still turn this around – it is entirely possible. It will take immediate, drastic annual emission reductions."
This lies in the hands of the "people" who can effect the change that they want to see and Thunberg said:
"Hope is not passive. Hope is not blah, blah, blah. Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action. And hope always comes from the people.”
As she urged people to take action, Thunberg also highlighted that the current technological solutions are insufficient to bring down carbon emissions drastically and so lifestyles must change.
That said, Thunberg did not lay out concrete ways on how people can take action in her speech.
Thunberg was speaking to the attendees of the Youth4Climate summit, which include some 400 youth activists from close to 200 countries.
At the event, these young climate leaders discussed possible climate solutions before presenting a consolidated document to policymakers who are attending the preparatory meeting for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (Pre-COP 26).
COP refers to the "Conference of the Parties" and it is an annual climate event where global leaders come together to agree on how to tackle climate change since 1995.
COP26 will take place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, after a year's delay due to the pandemic. The Pre-COP 26 commenced on Sep. 30 and will end on Oct. 2.
Singapore's Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu is one of the global leaders who are now in Milan for the preparatory meeting.COP 26 will also see participating countries providing an update on their climate action as it marks the fifth year of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is a landmark international treaty that was adopted by 196 members of the UNFCCC in 2015. It was later ratified by 191 members.
It was significant as, for the first time, both developing and developed countries are committed to limit global warming to well below 2ºC, or if possible, 1.5ºC, with a "common but differentiated responsibility" principle.
Prior to the Paris Agreement, the responsibility to reduce emissions mainly fell on the developed countries.
Under the Paris Agreement, members are supposed to update their climate actions, known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), once every five years.
Singapore has submitted its an enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution and Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy to the UNFCCC last March.
"COP 26 needs to be more decisive"
There is now a greater urgency for countries to set more ambitious goals to address climate change, and according to COP 26's website, this summit is believed to be the "best chance to get runaway climate change under control".
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest report suggested that global temperatures will increase by 1.5ºC or more by early 2030s.
Under business-as-usual scenario, the rise in global temperatures will cross the 1.5ºC mark by 2030.
The window to avoid the worst case scenario where irreversible changes to the earth systems are triggered is closing.
It's written on COP 26's website that the participating nations have to be "more decisive" as "the decade out to 2030 will be crucial".
You can watch Thunberg's full opening speech below:
More about Greta Thunberg:
Top image screenshot from The Map Report/YouTube