Greta Thunberg slammed Joe Biden‘s infrastructure and climate proposal as insufficient as she opened a conference in Italy today – accusing him and other leaders of making ’empty promises’ over global warming.
‘Build back better, blah blah blah. Green economy, blah blah blah,’ the Swedish activist said at the Youth4Climate summit. ‘Net zero by 2050, blah blah blah.
‘This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words. Words that sound great but so far have led to no action.’
Thunberg was referring to President Joe Biden’s proposal to ‘Build Back Better,’ a wide-ranging White House plan to lower child care, drug and housing costs; cut taxes on the middle class and subsidize clean energy like wind and solar.
On September 13, Democrats in Congress laid out a series of proposals to meet the White House’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
The proposals are part of the $3.5 trillion budget bill under negotiation, but some argue that the strict measures may cost average Americans more money in bills.
They include the first-ever federal fee for climate pollution by power plants, a fee on methane emissions by oil and gas producers and billions of dollars for homeowners and governments to invest in energy efficiency, according to Yahoo News.
Greta Thunberg mocked world leaders and their ’empty promises’ on climate change when she addressed a youth summit in Milan today
The 18-year-old activist took aim at President Joe Biden’ campaign slogan and White House plan to ‘build back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic
Biden and Democrats have proposed a number of measures to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2030, including penalties for power companies that don’t increase clean energy production
Thunberg was opening the Youth4Climate summit in Milan today which encourages youth delegates from 190 countries to come up with climate policies that can be discussed at COP26
Power companies that increase solar, wind or other clean energy production by four percent a year would get a grant. Critics have called it ‘corporate welfare,’ though companies that fall short of the goal will have to pay a penalty.
Thunberg said the US and other countries’ plans amount to little in the face of rising emissions while speaking at the Youth4Climate summit, hosted by the Italian government in Milan on Tuesday.
‘If this is what they consider to be climate action, then we don’t want it,’ the 18-year-old said.
‘They invite cherry-picked young people to meetings like this to pretend that they are listening to us, but they are not, they are clearly not listening to us and they never have.’
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Biden pledged to double the United States’ financial contributions to help developing nations fight, and adapt to climate change.
In a report published in August this year, UN experts said humans are ‘unequivocally’ to blame for climate change and that irreversible damage has already been caused.
It also laid out a grim vision of what will happen in the years ahead even if drastic action to cut emissions is taken immediately, calling it a ‘code red for humanity’,
But, the report was keen to point out, there is no ‘cliff-edge’ for climate change – a point at which the situation becomes hopeless and action is not worth taking.
Every degree the planet warms will make life harder – including more frequent droughts, forest fires, flooding, hurricanes and extremes of temperature – while every action to limit the damage will make things easier.
Biden’s proposal sets aside $27.5 billion in grants for governments and nonprofits that want to upgrade their infrastructure to low or zero-emission technology. It would also include $9 billion in rebates to homeowners for eco-friendly renovations.
Before plan specifics were unveiled, experts cautioned that lower emissions requirements could mean Americans paying more money for gas and green technologies.
Thunberg was mobbed by press as she arrived in Milan on a seven-hour train from Germany, telling reporters that her expectations for the talks are: ‘Not a lot’
Former President Donald Trump, above at the White House in February 2019, has accused Greta Thunberg of having ‘anger management’ issues and criticized her grim predictions
David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, told DailyMail.com that Biden’s plan is just a ‘multi-trillion dollar corporate welfare giveaway’.
‘Strict climate mandates/targets will disproportionately hurt lower and middle income citizens who will be forced to pay higher electricity bills,’ he said.
Bjorn Lomborg, a visiting fellow at Stanford University, told the OC Register that the plan to lower emissions will likely cost taxpayers about $3,500 per year.
‘While more than two-thirds of the US population finds that climate is a crisis or major problem, less than half are willing to spend even $24 a year to fight it, according to a 2019 survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.’
Thunberg clashed with former President Donald Trump numerous times.
In 2019, after Trump accused her of having anger management issues, she quoted him in her Twitter bio: ‘A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.’
That same year, the 75-year-old sarcastically called the teenager, ‘a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,’ replying to a video of Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations climate action summit.
Thunberg’s criticism comes weeks before world leaders including Biden are set to meet in Glasgow, England for the UN Climate Chane Conference at the end of October. Thunberg has yet to say whether she’ll go, according to Yahoo News.
‘Our hopes and dreams drown in their empty words and promises,’ she said Tuesday.
‘Of course we need constructive dialogue, but they’ve had 30 years of blah blah blah and where has that led us?’
‘Build back better’: Where does the phrase come from?
Build back better is a political slogan that dates back at least as far as the 2004 Indonesian tsunami when it was used to describe rebuilding efforts that aimed to correct long-standing problems in communities devastated by the disaster.
It was then incorporated into a 2015 UN report designed to reduce the risks from natural disasters, which stated that one of the aims of disaster recovery should be to ‘build back better’.
The phrase then gained new prominence this year when the US and UK announced their Covid recovery plans, both of which were named ‘Build Back Better’.
In March, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak presented a plan called ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’ to parliament while Joe Biden has also been pushing his own ‘Build Back Better Agenda’ in the States.
The British plan incorporates the so-called ‘levelling-up’ agenda to promote economic growth across the country, Boris’s vision of a ‘global Britain’ and a pledge to hit ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050.
Biden’s plan includes a pledge to create clean energy jobs alongside tax cuts for electric vehicles and new energy emissions standards.
She cited research showing that 50 percent of all CO2 emission have happened since 1990, and a third happened since 2005.
She echoed findings by the International Energy Agency, which says that only two percent of post-COVID economic recovery spending worldwide has been allocated to clean energy measures.
At a rally in Berlin on Friday, Thunberg also took aim at Biden’s slogan, which is used by the British government for a similar post-pandemic plan.
‘When you look at what we are actually investing the money in – the money that is supposed to be building back better – it shows the hypocrisy of our leaders,’ she said Friday.
Quoting a speech that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave back in April, she said: ‘This is not about some expensive politically correct dream of bunny hugging.’
Thunberg, who rose to fame thanks to her ‘school strike for climate’ protests in her native Sweden, also attacked governments for ‘shamelessly congratulating themselves’ while making insufficient pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Johnson made the ‘bunny hugger’ remark during a virtual climate summit in April this year, when he also used the phrase ‘build back better’.
‘What I’m driving at is this is about growth and jobs…’ he told world leaders. ‘We can build back better from this pandemic by building back greener.’
It is not the first time that Greta has picked up on the remark, changing her Twitter status to ‘bunny hugger’ just a day later in response.
Her latest remarks were made at the Youth4Climate summit in Milan – a three-day event attended by 400 young representatives from 190 nations which will be used to develop climate policies.
It runs until September 30, which is the first days of the Pre-COP conference – a summit of energy and climate ministers from around the world in preparation for the full COP26 meeting in Glasgow later this year.
On the final day of the youth summit, the young representatives will present their policies to ministers – with the best taken to Glasgow for discussion by world leaders.
Greta arrived at the summit after a seven-hour train journey from Frankfurt – where she has been pressuring Germany’s election candidates over climate change.
She was swarmed by reporters at the station, while she waited to take a mandatory Covid test.
Listening to Greta’s opening statement was Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 summit, who urged world leaders to make bolder commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions
When asked what she was expecting from the talks, Greta gave a typically-downbeat assessment – replying ‘not a lot’ before adding that it will be ‘just like any other meeting, with lots of talking.’
Thunberg was addressing the Youth4Climate portion of the Pre-COP conference, which is the last formal meeting between climate energy ministers from around 50 nations ahead of the main COP26 summit in November.
The aim of Pre-COP is to lay the groundwork for high-level deals to be struck at COP26 itself, when it is hoped major economies will commit to drastic cuts in carbon emissions with the aim of reaching ‘net-neutral’ by 2050.
Pre-COP runs from September 30 to October 2, with the Youth4Climate summit taking place just before – from September 28 to 30.
During the youth event, some 400 young delegates from 190 countries will hold round-table discussions and workshops to develop climate policies that will be presented to ministers on the final day of the meeting.
Thunberg has poked fun at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, changing her Twitter bio to ‘Bunny hugger’ after he used the phrase in his speech at a Climate Summit
The best will be taken to the COP26 summit itself, to be discussed by world leaders and their teams.
Events were originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but have been delayed by a year due to the Covid pandemic.
Also addressing the event was Alok Sharma, the UK minister serving as president of COP26, who said the time has come for bolder commitments from world leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Sharma said the response of world leaders to the climate change crisis to-date has not come anywhere close to the scale of the challenge.
The U.N. COP26 conference in Glasgow in November aims to secure more ambitious climate action from the nearly 200 countries who signed the 2015 Paris Agreement.
At that summit, world leaders had agreed to try to limit human-caused global warming to 1.5C – a target the UN has since warned is likely to be missed.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to make the UK a world leader in reducing emissions with ambitious plans to replace gas boilers with hydrogen and a ban on the construction of fossil-fuelled cars including hybrids from 2033.
However, he has been facing pressure to explain exactly who will end up footing the bill – with some estimating the measures could end up costing the average household £28,000, or nearly $38,000.