Greta Thunberg Blasts UN, World Leaders for Empty Promises to Youth Climate Activists

Youth climate activist Geta Thunberg voiced her disappointment in the world's leaders Tuesday during a Youth4Climate event in Milan, Italy, the Associated Press reported.

"This is all we hear from our so-called leaders: Words. Words that sound great but so far have led to no action," she said. "Our hopes and dreams 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 this led us?"

The Youth4Climate summit gathered about 400 activists from 180 countries who will send their requests for change to a United Nations climate summit that will begin on October 31.

Thunberg said it is not too late to reverse the harmful climate trends if leaders will truly listen to their concerns and change their actions, and even questioned the integrity of the Youth4Climate event.

"They invite cherry-picked young people to pretend they are listening to us, but they are not. They are clearly not listening to us. Just look at the numbers. Emissions are still rising. The science doesn't lie," Thunberg said.

Thunberg was not alone in her disapproval, as fellow climate activist Vanessa Nakate also voiced her concerns at the event.

"Funds were promised by 2020, and we are still waiting,'' Nakate said. "No more empty conferences. It's time to show us the money. It's time, it's time, it's time. And don't forget to listen to the most affected people and areas."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Greta Thunberg speaks at climate event
Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate (right) is comforted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg as she is overcome by emotion after speaking during the opening of a three-day youth climate summit in Milan, Italy, on September 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Nakete spoke on the problems she had seen, such as police taking away a body that had been washed away by violent storms in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

She collapsed in tears after her emotional speech, getting comfort from Thunberg, who followed her to the podium.

"Leaders like to say, 'We can do it.' They obviously don't mean it. But we do," Thunberg said.

Nakate, a 24-year-old Ugandan, said pledges of 100 billion euros ($117 billion) a year to help countries particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change has not materialized, even as wildfires in California and Greece and floods in Germany and Belgium show that "loss and damage is now possible everywhere."

Nakate dramatically underlined how climate change is affecting the African continent, "which is ironic given that Africa is the lowest emitter of CO2 emissions of any continent except Antarctica."

The three-day Youth4Climate Summit will be followed by a two-day pre-COP meeting before Glasgow aimed at finding common ground on sticking points among countries, which range from the world's big carbon emitters to developing nations that are lagging both economically and technologically.

Hopes for a successful Glasgow summit have been boosted by announcements from the world's two biggest economies and largest carbon polluters, the United States and China. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will no longer fund coal-fired plants abroad; U.S. President Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid for green growth to poorer nations.

In addition, Turkey has said it would adhere to the Paris protocols and South Africa announced more ambitious emissions targets.

"These are good steps,'' said Italy's minister for ecological transition, Roberto Cingolani, who is hosting the Milan meetings. "They mean that they are moving in the right direction....I never expect quantum jumps in this gigantic operation on a world level. But the indicators are all good."

The Youth4Climate Summit in Italy
People follow a debate on the opening day of a three-day youth climate summit in Milan, Italy, on September 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) Luca Bruno/Associated Press