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Obama cites Greta Thunberg in COP26 speech, acknowledges frustration

By Yashasvini on Nov 09, 2021 | 05:39 AM IST

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• “Folks in my generation have not done enough to deal with a potentially cataclysmic problem that you now stand to inherit.”

• Last Friday, climate activist Greta Thunberg, called the COP26 Summit a “PR event” and labeled the talks a “failure”

Two days after young activists marched through the streets of Glasgow demanding urgent action from world leaders at the COP26 Climate Summit, former U.S. President Barack Obama cited young climate activist Greta Thunberg in his speech and urged young climate activists to keep fighting.

Obama honored the dedication of activists Thunberg who are "forming movements across borders", and urged young people to at least get out and vote for politicians who will stand against climate change.

Obama said that “time is really running out”. “You are right to be frustrated. Folks in my generation have not done enough to deal with a potentially cataclysmic problem that you now stand to inherit,” he said, acknowledging the campaigners’ concerns.

Also Read: Obama describes islands as the “canary in the coal mine” at COP26 Summit

He encouraged the youth activists to get more engaged in protests regarding climate change. “I want you to stay angry, I want you to stay frustrated. But challenge that anger and harness that frustration,” he said.

Also Read: COP26: Obama hits out on China and Russia for ‘lack of urgency’

Obama’s call for action at the COP26 Summit, was similar to a 2009 speech, reposted by a 24-year-old Ugandan climate activist, Vanessa Nakate, without much translation to action. 

‘Failure’ and a ‘PR event’

Last Friday, Greta Thunberg, now 18, called the COP26 Summit talks a “failure” at the end of the first week of two. Addressing nearly 25000 young climate protestors on Friday who marched from Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park to the city center, Thunberg said that the delegates at Glasgow were carving out loopholes for every pledge and “greenwashing” their countries’ emissions.

“It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve the crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place,” Thunberg said.

“The COP has turned into a PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtains governments of the Global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action,” she added.

Also Read: COP26: 28 nations pledge to quit coal, U.S., China, India skip out alliance

Thunberg said called the Summit “the most exclusionary COP ever,” because those at the sharp end of the climate crisis remain unheard of. She added that the event could be considered a “two-week-long celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah.”

Meanwhile, spokespersons at the COP26 Summit maintained that the UK was committed to hosting an inclusive COP.

Thunberg gained the spotlight three years ago when she refused to attend school to protest inaction on climate change. Thunberg has repeatedly trashed promises and pledges by leaders calling for strong action to reverse climate change.

Also Read: Biden pledges to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030

Picture Credits: Teen Vogue

With inputs from BBC

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