[Column] Greta Thunberg has had enough of leaders’ “blah blah blah”

Posted on : 2021-11-18 17:19 KST Modified on : 2021-11-18 17:19 KST
Illustration by Jaewoogy.com
Illustration by Jaewoogy.com

“Blah blah blah.” This mocking phrase could be heard making the rounds in the weeks leading up to the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

The phrase came up in a speech by Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg at the Youth4Climate Summit, which was held in Milan on Sept. 28, a month before COP26. In her speech, Thunberg castigated world leaders such as US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron for fine-sounding words that “have not led to action” on resolving the climate crisis. She pointedly observed that there has been “30 years of blah blah blah” while “our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”

The phrase was on the lips of many attendees during the two weeks of COP26. Climate activists held up signs that said, “No more blah blah blah” during a climate strike held in Glasgow on Nov. 5 to urge world leaders to act on the climate crisis. Thunberg was quoted by the leader of the summit’s host nation, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a speech at the opening ceremony. Promises without action, Johnson said, are “nothing but ‘blah blah blah’—to coin a phrase.”

Thunberg didn’t come up with “blah blah blah” out of nowhere. Young climate activists, who are much more concerned about the climate crisis than the older generation, have been arguing that what’s needed is action, not lip service. Indeed, one of the most frequent slogans at the climate strikes they’ve organized is, “If we don’t act now, it’ll be too late.”

But their hopes were dashed by the disappointing outcome of COP26. Conference attendees backpedaled on the gradual abolition of coal mentioned in the initial draft of the agreement, replacing it with a gradual reduction, and pushed back the creation of a fund to help developing countries respond to the climate crisis another year.

That didn’t really jibe with Johnson’s remark in the same opening speech that “it’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock.”

Thunberg summed up the conference in a brief tweet: “Blah blah blah.”

By Lee Jong-kyu, editorial writer

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