COP26: Greta Thunberg dismisses climate summit as ‘greenwash festival of empty promises’

The climate activist blasted world leaders and delegates during a climate protest in Glasgow on day five of COP26

Greta Thunberg has said that the COP26 climate summit has been a “greenwash festival of empty promises” while addressing thousands of climate protesters in Glasgow.

The climate activist took to the stage during a march through the city centre of the Scottish city, which is currently hosting the COP26 climate summit.

The march and protest took place on the Youth Empowerment Day at the conference.

Thunberg branded the summit a “failure” so far, with the first week of COP26 coming to an end.

World leaders such as US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron visited the conference to discuss plans to combat climate change as part of the Paris Agreement.

While there has so far been promises of ending deforestation and reducing methane emissions, Thunberg believed that what has been said and agreed upon so far is the equivalent of “blah, blah, blah”.

What did Greta Thunberg say at the Glasgow climate strike protest?

Addressing the 8,000 person crowd, Thunberg said: “This is no longer a climate conference.

“This is now a global north greenwash festival, a two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah blah blah.

“The most affected people in the most affected areas still remain unheard and the voices of future generations are drowning in their greenwash and empty words and promises.

“But the facts do not lie. And we know that our emperors are naked.

Greta Thunberg speaking on the main stage in George Square, Glasgow (Credit: PA)Greta Thunberg speaking on the main stage in George Square, Glasgow (Credit: PA)
Greta Thunberg speaking on the main stage in George Square, Glasgow (Credit: PA)

“The question we must now ask ourselves is, what is it that we are fighting for? Are we fighting to save ourselves and the living planet? Or are we fighting to maintain business as usual?

“Our leaders say that we can have both, but the harsh truth is that that is not possible in practice.”

Thunberg then criticised world leaders who promised action on global warming and climate change despite “expanding fossil fuel infrastructure, opening up coal mines and granting oil licences.”

Who else spoke at the Glasgow climate strike protests?

Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate joined Thunberg in her condemnation of the COP26 summit, adding: “Once again, we are faced with another COP event. How many more of these should they hold until they realise that inactions are destroying the planet?

“Historically, Africa is responsible for only 3% of global emissions and yet Africans are suffering some of the most brutal impacts fueled by the climate crisis.

“But while the African continent, while the global south is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, they’re not on the front pages of the world’s newspapers.

“We’ve seen activists from the most affected areas being erased from pictures, from conversations and removed from rooms.

“But how will we have climate justice if people from the most affected areas are not being listened to?”

Around 8,000 protesters took part in the climate strike in Glasgow on the Youth Empowerment ay at COP26. (Credit:PA)Around 8,000 protesters took part in the climate strike in Glasgow on the Youth Empowerment ay at COP26. (Credit:PA)
Around 8,000 protesters took part in the climate strike in Glasgow on the Youth Empowerment ay at COP26. (Credit:PA)

What was the reaction to the Glasgow climate strike protest?

The protest invited schoolchildren to strike from their day at school to attend.

Downing Street condemned the call for schoolchildren to strike from their day at school, stating that missing class time was “extremely disruptive” after the coronavirus pandemic had already affected classes.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “We do understand why young people feel so strongly about climate change, and we want to see them use that passion and turn it into action.

“That’s exactly why we’re empowering them through our new virtual national education park, climate leaders awards, and giving teachers the tools to put climate change at the heart of the curriculum, and we’re backing this up with our continued pledge to cut the carbon footprint of school buildings as well.”

This was echoed by the Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who said: “I wish they were doing it on a Saturday and a Sunday, not in school time.

“I’d hate to get into a situation where headteachers and teachers are having to fine families and students.”

Police Scotland confirmed that the protest went well, with Assistant Chief Constable Gary Richie saying: “Thousands of young people took to the streets of Glasgow today in a spectacular event claiming their right to be heard in discussions on the future of the planet. It was hugely inspiring to see children of all ages getting involved and expressing their commitment to tackling climate change and protecting their future.

This was a really important day in the COP26 schedule and we were pleased to be part of such a memorable event for these young participants and for Glasgow. Our officers enjoyed engaging with young people, many have children of their own who were taking part in today’s march.

“Policing of this event was, as promised, proportionate, as has been our overall approach throughout COP26. Our officers stayed in the background but were there to support young people and be on hand if needed to ensure their safety. Today’s success is largely down to the high level of engagement between the protest organisers and Police Scotland.”

Is there going to be another climate protest in Glasgow during COP26?

There will be a second planned climate protest in Glasgow on Saturday, 6 November.

Police Scotland have detailed plans for the biggest planned protest due to take place during the summit.

Assistant Chief Constable Ritchie added: “Tomorrow we will be supporting the climate change march which is expected to draw many thousands of participants. We will be there to maintain the safety of the public and participants and to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or to counter-protest. These rights are always balanced against the rights of the wider community.

“There will be an increased police presence in Glasgow tomorrow and roads, public transport and the streets will be significantly busier than would normally be expected in the city on a Saturday.

“Whether you are attending the marches or are travelling to Glasgow for another reason, please plan your journey in advance and prepare for delays and potential changes required at short notice for operational reasons. “If you’re going to a march, please act responsibly, be respectful in your actions and follow the route and instructions given to you by event organisers or police officers.”

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