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Greta Thunberg mocks world leaders as she addresses climate summit


Greta Thunberg mocked Boris Johnson as she opened a climate summit in Italy today – accusing them of making ’empty promises’ over global warming.

Quoting a speech that Mr Johnson gave back in April, she said: ‘This is not about some expensive politically correct dream of bunny hugging, or build back better, blah blah blah. Green economy, blah blah blah, net zero by 2050, blah blah blah.’

Thunberg, who rose to fame thanks to her ‘school strike for climate’ protests in her native Sweden, then added: ‘This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. 

‘Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.’

She also attacked governments for ‘shamelessly congratulating themselves’ while making insufficient pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Greta Thunberg mocked world leaders and their 'empty promises' on climate change when she addressed a youth summit in Milan today

Greta Thunberg mocked world leaders and their ’empty promises’ on climate change when she addressed a youth summit in Milan today

The 18-year-old activist quoted from Boris Johnson and Indian PM Narendra Modi before mocking their pledged by saying: 'Blah, blah, blah'

The 18-year-old activist quoted from Boris Johnson and Indian PM Narendra Modi before mocking their pledged by saying: ‘Blah, blah, blah’

‘Build back better’: Where does the phrase come from? 

Build back better is a political slogan that dates back at least as far as the 2004 Indonesian tsunami when it was used to describe rebuilding efforts that aimed to correct long-standing problems in communities devastated by the disaster.

It was then incorporated into a 2015 UN report designed to reduce the risks from natural disasters, which stated that one of the aims of disaster recovery should be to ‘build back better’.

The phrase then gained new prominence this year when the US and UK announced their Covid recovery plans, both of which were named ‘Build Back Better’.

In March, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak presented a plan called ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’ to parliament while Joe Biden has also been pushing his own ‘Build Back Better Agenda’ in the States.

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The British plan incorporates the so-called ‘levelling-up’ agenda to promote economic growth across the country, Boris’s vision of a ‘global Britain’ and a pledge to hit ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050.

Biden’s plan includes a pledge to create clean energy jobs alongside tax cuts for electric vehicles and new energy emissions standards. 

 

Mr Johnson made the ‘bunny hugger’ remark during a virtual climate summit in April this year, when he also used the phrase ‘build back better’. 

‘What I’m driving at is this is about growth and jobs…’ he told world leaders. ‘We can build back better from this pandemic by building back greener.’

It is not the first time that Greta has picked up on the remark, changing her Twitter status to ‘bunny hugger’ just a day later in response. 

Her latest remarks were made at the Youth4Climate summit in Milan – a three-day event attended by 400 young representatives from 190 nations which will be used to develop climate policies.

It runs until September 30, which is the first days of the Pre-COP conference – a summit of energy and climate ministers from around the world in preparation for the full COP26 meeting in Glasgow later this year.

On the final day of the youth summit, the young representatives will present their policies to ministers – with the best taken to Glasgow for discussion by world leaders.

Greta arrived at the summit after a seven-hour train journey from Frankfurt – where she has been pressuring Germany’s election candidates over climate change.

She was swarmed by reporters at the station, while she waited to take a mandatory Covid test.

When asked what she was expecting from the talks, Greta gave a typically-downbeat assessment – replying ‘not a lot’ before adding that it will be ‘just like any other meeting, with lots of talking.’

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Thunberg was addressing the Youth4Climate portion of the Pre-COP conference, which is the last formal meeting between climate energy ministers from around 50 nations ahead of the main COP26 summit in November.

The aim of Pre-COP is to lay the groundwork for high-level deals to be struck at COP26 itself, when it is hoped major economies will commit to drastic cuts in carbon emissions with the aim of reaching ‘net-neutral’ by 2050.

Pre-COP runs from September 30 to October 2, with the Youth4Climate summit taking place just before – from September 28 to 30.

During the youth event, some 400 young delegates from 190 countries will hold round-table discussions and workshops to develop climate policies that will be presented to ministers on the final day of the meeting.

The best will be taken to the COP26 summit itself, to be discussed by world leaders and their teams.

Thunberg was opening the Youth4Climate summit in Milan today which encourages youth delegates from 190 countries to come up with climate policies that can be discussed at COP26

Thunberg was opening the Youth4Climate summit in Milan today which encourages youth delegates from 190 countries to come up with climate policies that can be discussed at COP26

Thunberg was mobbed by press as she arrived in Milan on a seven-hour train from Germany, telling reporters that her expectations for the talks are: 'Not a lot'

Thunberg was mobbed by press as she arrived in Milan on a seven-hour train from Germany, telling reporters that her expectations for the talks are: ‘Not a lot’

Listening to Greta's opening statement was Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 summit, who urged world leaders to make bolder commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Listening to Greta’s opening statement was Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 summit, who urged world leaders to make bolder commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Events were originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but have been delayed by a year due to the Covid pandemic.

Also addressing the event was Alok Sharma, the UK minister serving as president of COP26, who said the time has come for bolder commitments from world leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Sharma said the response of world leaders to the climate change crisis to-date has not come anywhere close to the scale of the challenge. 

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The U.N. COP26 conference in Glasgow in November aims to secure more ambitious climate action from the nearly 200 countries who signed the 2015 Paris Agreement.

At that summit, world leaders had agreed to try to limit human-caused global warming to 1.5C – a target the UN has since warned is likely to be missed. 

In a report published in August this year, UN experts said humans are ‘unequivocally’ to blame for climate change and that irreversible damage has already been caused.

It also laid out a grim vision of what will happen in the years ahead even if drastic action to cut emissions is taken immediately, calling it a ‘code red for humanity’,

But, the report was keen to point out, there is no ‘cliff-edge’ for climate change – a point at which the situation becomes hopeless and action is not worth taking.

Every degree the planet warms will make life harder – including more frequent droughts, forest fires, flooding, hurricanes and extremes of temperature – while every action to limit the damage will make things easier.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to make the UK a world leader in reducing emissions with ambitious plans to replace gas boilers with hydrogen and a ban on the construction of fossil-fuelled cars including hybrids from 2033.

However, he has been facing pressure to explain exactly who will end up footing the bill – with some estimating the measures could end up costing the average household £28,000.

Boris Johnson, speaking at the virtual global Leaders Summit on Climate from Downing Street, urged the world's richest nations to embrace climate action

Boris Johnson, speaking at the virtual global Leaders Summit on Climate from Downing Street, urged the world’s richest nations to embrace climate action

Greta Thunberg has poked fun at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, changing her Twitter profile to 'Bunny hugger' after he use the phrase in his speech at Thursday's Climate Summit

Greta Thunberg has poked fun at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, changing her Twitter profile to ‘Bunny hugger’ after he use the phrase in his speech at Thursday’s Climate Summit



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