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Thunberg chides global leaders for ‘blah, blah, blah’ on climate

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Four hundred climate activists from 180 countries were invited to Italy’s financial capital for a three-day Youth4Climate summit that will send its recommendations to a major United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, that begins October 31. But participants are demanding more accountability from leaders and a bigger official role for young people.

“They invite cherry-picked young people to pretend they are listening to us,’’ Thunberg said. “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.

“Leaders like to say, We can do it.’ They obviously don’t mean it. But we do,” the Swedish activist said.

Nakate, a 24-year-old activist from Uganda, 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.”

“In fact, funds were promised by 2020, and we are still waiting,’’ she 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.”

Nakata 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 Antartica.”

Just last week, she said she saw police taking away a body that had been washed away by violent storms in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, while others searched for more victims. Her mother told her that one man dragged off by the water had been trying to save the goods he was selling from being washed away.

Nakata collapsed in tears after her emotional speech, getting comfort from Thunberg, who followed her to the podium that was too tall for her small stature.

Thunberg, who coalesced the global protest movement Fridays for Future, optimistically said it wasn’t too late to reverse climate trends. But she has clearly heard enough from leaders, whom she said have been talking for 30 years while half of all carbon emissions have occurred since 1990, one-third since 2005.

– THE PIONEER

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