Hundreds of young people led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg marched through the Italian city of Milan to demand swift climate action, weeks before the crucial United Nations climate change conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow.
The rally took place on Friday as an extension of the “Fridays for Future” movement that took students to the streets of cities around the world two years ago, before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
âHope does not come from politicians’ blah,â Thunberg said as she led the rally in Milan, accompanied by Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate.
âHope doesn’t come from inaction and empty promises that everything will be fine, they say trust us, we’re doing all we can, it’s not hope, hope is- this, hope is us the people, hope is when people come together to make change.
The 18-year-old climate activist, who is considered a possible Nobel Peace Prize winner on October 8, was in Milan for the official UN rally for the youth version of COP26, which is expected to see the participation of about 400 people.
The three-day Youth4Climate conference drew criticism from young delegates, who accused organizers of not being interested in their contribution to a document that will be sent to this year’s United Nations climate conference.
Thunberg slammed climate ministers on the first day of the youth climate summit on Tuesday, saying “they claim to have solutions to the climate crisis and that they are taking sufficient action, but we are seeing through their lies” .
âRebuild better, blah, blah, blah. Green economy, blah, blah, blah. Net-zero by 2050, blah, blah, blah. Climate neutral, blah, blah, blah. That’s all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words, words that sound good but which so far have not led to any action, âshe said.
Since his speech, âblah, blah, blahâ has become a rallying cry for climate justice activists on social media.
Protesters in Milan have said they want to see the change at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, which begins on October 31.
“They are extremely frustrated, angry and eager to change,” said Adam Raney, Al Jazeera correspondent in Milan.
âThey call for a greater commitment from rich countries to spend on poor countries in order to level the playing field in the fight against climate change.
Thunberg met with Italian Prime Minister and current G20 President Mario Draghi on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to get world leaders to make commitments ahead of the climate summit.
The activists’ proposals included calls for a transparent climate finance system and sustainable and responsible tourism, as well as the total elimination of the fossil fuel industry by 2030.
Their proposals will be examined by the pre-COP26 meeting of climate and energy ministers in the coming days before the Glasgow conference.
Draghi assured them that their requests would not go unnoticed. “You are right to demand accounts and changes … your mobilization has been powerful and rest assured, we are listening to you,” he said.