Build back better: 'Blah blah blah' - Greta takes aim at world leaders in climate speech

28 September 2021, 15:00

Greta Thunberg slammed Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and other world leaders for their lack of real action on tackling climate change.
Greta Thunberg slammed Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and other world leaders for their lack of real action on tackling climate change. Picture: Alamy

By Joe Cook

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has slammed Boris Johnson and other"so-called" world leaders for their "empty promises" on tackling climate change.

The 18-year-old took aim at the prime minister and US President Joe Biden's commitments to "build back better" following the pandemic, in a speech to the Youth4Cimate summit in Milan, Italy.

“Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah," she said, to cheers from activists.

“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 words and promises.”

"Of course we need constructive dialogue, but they have now had 30 years of blah, blah, blah and where has that led us?"

As Ms Thunberg took aim at the politicians for a lack of action, the President of COP 26, Conservative Alok Sharma, watched on straight faced from a large screen above her.

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COP 26 President Alok Sharma looked on straight faced as Greta Thunberg took aim at his boss' rhetoric. File photo.
COP 26 President Alok Sharma looked on straight faced as Greta Thunberg took aim at his boss' rhetoric. File photo. Picture: Alamy

Mr Johnson has described the Glasgow COP 26 summit - which is now just over a month away - as "the turning point for humanity".

In a speech to world leaders at the United Nations on Thursday, the PM said now is the time for humanity to "grow up" as he compared it to an immature teenager.

"We have an awesome power to change things and to change things for the better, and an awesome power to save ourselves," he continued.

"In the next 40 days, we have to choose, the world has to choose what kind of awesome we're going to be."

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But Ms Thunberg seemed less than impressed by Mr Johnson's rhetoric, quoting his previous comments dismissing climate activism as “bunny hugging”.

Preparations for the Glasgow conference are already well underway, with 20,000 attendees - including the Queen, Pope and President Biden - set to descend on the Scottish city.

On Monday, police divers searched the River Clyde with underwater cameras to look for anything of concern.

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Police Scotland officers have been taking part in protest exercises ahead of COP26.
Police Scotland officers have been taking part in protest exercises ahead of COP26. Picture: Alamy

During the conference itself, armed Ministry of Defence police will patrol the waterway around the clock as part of one of the biggest mobilisation of police assets the UK has ever seen.

With climate protesters also expected to take action during the two week conference, the police have said they will use a "proportionate policing response" that "balances the needs and rights of those wishing to take part [in the conference] against the safety and wellbeing of protesters".