Greta Thunberg's 'blah blah blah' speech, Milan, 2021

Greta Thunberg spoke at the #PreCOP26 #Youth4Climate Conference in Milan, in September 2021.

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Read the transcript:

Hello, and thank you.

‘Climate change is not only a threat, it is above all an opportunity to create a healthier, greener and cleaner planet which will benefit all of us.’ [ironically quoting politicians]
‘We must seize this opportunity - we can achieve a win-win in both ecological conservation and high quality development.’
‘Fighting climate change calls for innovation, cooperation and willpower to make the changes that the world needs.'
‘We need to walk the talk - if we do this together, we can do this.’
‘When I say “climate change”, what do you think of? I think of jobs - green jobs - green jobs’.
‘We must find a smooth transition towards a low-carbon economy.’
‘There is no planet B’ there is no planet blah - blah blah blah, blah blah blah.
‘This is not about some expensive politically-correct green-assed bunny-hugging or’ blah blah blah.
‘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.

This is all we hear from our so-called leaders: words - words that sound great, but so far have led to no action.
Our hopes and dreams drown in their empty words and promises.
Of course we need constructive dialogue, but they’ve now had 30 years of blah bah blah and where has that led us?
Over 50% of all our CO2 emissions have occurred since 1990, and a third since 2005.
All this while the media is reporting what the leaders say that they are going to do instead of what they are actually doing.
and they are not holding leaders accountable for their action, or rather inaction.
and don’t get me wrong, we can still do this - change is not only possible but urgently necessary, but not if we go on like today.
They say they want solutions, but you cannot solve a crisis that you do not fully understand
and you cannot balance a budget if you do not count all the numbers.
And as long as we ignore equity and historic emissions, and as long as we don’t include consumption of imported goods, burning of biomass etc etc, and as long as clever accounting is one of the most efficient ways of reducing emissions, we won’t get anywhere.

And the climate crisis is of course only a symptom of a much larger crisis - the sustainability crisis, the social crisis - a crisis of inequality that dates back to colonialism and beyond - a crisis based on the idea that some people are worth more than others and therefore have a right to exploit and steal other people’s land and resources - and it is very naive to believe that we can solve this crisis without confronting the roots of it.

Right now we are still very much speeding in the wrong direction.
2021 is currently projected to experience the second highest emission rise ever.
Only about 2% of government recovery spending has been allocated to clean energy measures
And according to a new report by the UN, global emissions are expected to rise by 16% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
Our leaders’ intentional lack of action is a betrayal towards all present and future generations.
The people in power cannot claim that they are trying because they are clearly not, as they continue opening up brand new coal mines, oilfields and pipelines, pretending to have ambitious climate policies while granting new oil licences and exploring enormous future oil fields, and shamelessly congratulating themselves while still failing to come up with even the bare minimum and long-overdue funding to help the most vulnerable countries deal with the impact of the climate crisis.
If this is what they consider to be climate action, then we don’t want it.

They invite cherry-picked young people to meetings like this to pretend that they are listening to us.
But they are not - they are clearly not listening to us - and they never have - just look at the numbers - look at the statistics - the emissions are still rising - the science doesn’t lie.

But, of course, we can still turn this around - it is entirely possible.
It will take drastic annual emission cuts unlike anything the world has ever seen.
And as we don’t have the technological solutions that alone can deliver anything close to that, that means we will have to change.
We can no longer let the people in power to decide what is politically possible or not.
We can no longer let the people in power to decide what hope is.
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.

And we the people - we want a safe future, we want real climate action and we want climate justice.
Did you hear me?
What do we want? [Audiance chanting: Climate justice] When do we want it? [Now]
The leaders like to say ‘we can do this’. They obviously don’t mean it, but we do - we can do this.
I’m absolutely convinced that we can.
But it starts with the people - it starts with facing the reality of the situation as uncomfortable as it may be.
It starts with taking action, and it starts now.
What do we want? [Audiance: Climate justice] When do we want it? [Now]

Thank you

Background information

Some further information on the points made by Greta Thunberg is in the following documents.

Carbon budgets

Equity between nations

Excluding emissions from consumption of imported goods

The need for drastic annual emission cuts

First published: 16 Oct 2021
Last updated: 4 Apr 2022