GLASGOW, Scotland – At this year’s UN climate conference, few world leaders and celebrities get more attention than 18-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
Although Thunberg was not officially invited to attend the conference, Thunberg was plagued by fans when she arrived by train to Glasgow.
“I think a lot of people may be afraid that if they invite too many radical young people, it can make them look bad,” she told the BBC.
Thunberg, perhaps the most recognizable face of all the world’s climate activists, took part in a demonstration the following day on the banks of the River Clyde, just outside the convention hall.
“Inside the COP, they are just politicians and those in power who pretend to take our future seriously, and pretend to take the present seriously for the people already affected by the climate crisis,” she told reporters and fans. “Change does not come from there.”
“No more blah, blah, blah, no more what the hell they’re doing in there,” she concluded.
Yet Thunberg herself, along with Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, had already been inside the congress hall when she said those words. The two young climate activists, both affiliated with the Fridays for Future youth movement, were photographed talking to Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
On Tuesday, Thunberg was to return to the meeting place for a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Other speakers from the previous day’s rally could be seen inside the conference on Tuesday.
The fact is that Thunberg’s opinions mean something to many world leaders. Her platform and fearless criticism make her a force in the global climate movement, and most delegates at COP26 share her concerns that the world is not moving fast enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2019, Thunberg was typically blunt when she spoke to Guterres, dozens of world leaders and business leaders at the UN climate summit.
“You are failing us,” she said to her audience. “But the young people are beginning to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are on you, and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”
That is the message that has been repeated by delegates from developing countries in Glasgow.
“This crisis is not being treated as a crisis. It needs to be changed here in Glasgow,” said Sonam Wangdi, secretary of the National Environment Commission for the Royal Government of Bhutan, which chairs the Least Developed Countries group, in a statement.
Weeks before this year’s conference, Thunberg said she would theoretically be open to meeting with world leaders like President Biden.
“I think it will depend on the situation,” she said. “I do not see why these people want to meet me, but yes.”
But in September, she mocked Bidens Build Back Better plan, saying it was too little, too late.
“As we move out of the pandemic, many are talking about using this as an opportunity for a green sustainable recovery, whatever that means,” Thunberg said. “And world leaders are talking about ‘building back better’, promising green investment and setting vague and distant climate targets to say they are taking climate action.”
Thunberg has also criticized Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry over his statements about the need for new inventions to meet emissions targets.
But at COP26, Biden and Kerry have sought to mobilize the world to move faster to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, rally nations on climate finance to developing countries, protect forests and oceans, and sign promises to cut down on methane emissions. While Thunberg’s critique of the couple has some value, the United States has sought to restore its role as a world leader in climate change, and its efforts at COP26 stand in stark contrast to the relative lack of initiative put forward by nations like China.
But while Thunberg may not have found herself on the official list of delegates at this year’s conference, her role as an agitator has seen her work up in the crowd outside the venue, while lobbying for support from senior officials inside, whether they like it or not. it or not.
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