‘Blah, blah, blah’: Greta Thunberg mocks Boris Johnson climate promises

Greta Thunberg dismissed promises made by world leaders, including Boris Johnson, as just “blah, blah, blah” at the opening of a youth climate conference yesterday.

Greta Thunberg has dismissed promises made by world leaders. Photograph: Nicolò Campo/Getty Images Greta Thunberg has dismissed promises made by world leaders. Photograph: Nicolò Campo/Getty Images

The young Swedish activist made the comments at the Youth4Climate conference taking place in Italy ahead of pre-COP26 talks, which will start in the same venue from Thursday.

Speaking below a screen on which the UK’s COP26 president Alok Sharma appeared on a video link, Thunberg quoted statements made by the prime minister: “This is not some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging… Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah.”

“This is all we hear from our so-called leaders”, she said, “words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”

Thunberg also took aim at the youth conference itself, saying "so-called leaders have cherry picked young people to meetings like this to pretend they are listening to us, but they are not listening".

The activist’s latest comments follow a speech made by Johnson last week at the United National General Assembly, where he drew out a metaphor of humanity being in its adolescence, “old enough to get ourselves into serious trouble”, but about to reach a “critical turning point” at COP26.

For the adolescents and young people at this week’s Italian conference, how to secure a bigger role in decision-making is what they will be debating, as well as their role in helping to transform energy use, nature conservation and climate adaptation, and how education can create a climate-conscious society.

Thousands of activists have gone to Milan, with some 400 from about 190 countries, set to engage with policymakers to discuss proposals for possible solutions.

Thunberg told her audience that “we can still turn this around – it is entirely possible. It will take immediate, drastic annual emission reductions”. 

“But not if things go on like today,” she warned. “Our leaders’ intentional lack of action is a betrayal toward all present and future generations.”

The prime minister has called for all governments to “step up” ahead of COP26 and commit to substantial reductions in carbon emissions, and said in his UNGA speech that in his view this can be done by making commitments in four areas: “coal, cars, cash and trees”. 

READ MORE: ‘Coal, cars, cash and trees’: What to expect at COP26

With a recent commitment made by China to put an end to building foreign coal energy plants, analysts have expressed hope that progress will indeed be possible at COP. 

However, with carbon emissions on track to rise by 16% by 2030, according to the UN, tougher pledges at COP26 are going to be required in order to keep the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5C within reach.

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

Most-read articles

Principal Planner

Leeds is a fast growing city and the main driver of a city region with a £64.6 billion economy.

Officer 2 Environment Team x 2

Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

Environment Team Leader

If you want a role that offers variety and challenge, and to be a part of an organisation that has the sustainable management of natural resources at the core of our purpose, we would love to hear from you.

Non-Executive Member to the Office for Environmental Protection

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is seeking to appoint a Non-Executive Member to the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP).

Installations Officer - Control of Major Accidents Hazards (COMAH)

We are looking for two enthusiastic professionals to join our North West Hub Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulatory team as Installations Officers.

Installation Officer

If you’re part of the Environment Agency (EA), you’re part of the solution. Working with us means protecting and improving the environment for generations to come, tackling issues of national importance across a huge variety of disciplines.

Sustainable Development Programme Manager

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a driven and motivated individual to join a forward thinking and dynamic Directorate within Public Health Wales.