‘Blah, blah, blah’: Swedish activist Greta Thunberg dismisses UN climate deal

The Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg on Saturday said that the COP26 UN climate talks had achieved nothing but "blah, blah, blah", after nations reached a compromise deal in Glasgow.

'Blah, blah, blah': Swedish activist Greta Thunberg dismisses UN climate deal
Greta Thunberg speaks at a Fridays For Future rally in Glasgow on November 5th. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

“The real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever,” the figurehead of the Fridays for Future movement posted on Twitter

On Saturday evening, the UN members states agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, despite a last-minute intervention by India to change the language on “phasing out” coal to “phasing down” coal. 

Alok Sharma, the British minister who led the talks, conceded that it had not come as far as some had hoped. 

“We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5C alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action,” he said. 

“Before this conference, the world asked: do the parties here in Glasgow have the courage to rise to the scale of the challenge? We have responded. History has been made here in Glasgow.”

While the agreement won applause for keeping alive the hope of capping global warming at 1.5C, many of the nearly 200 national delegations wished they had come away with more.

But Thunberg on Twitter cited estimates by the respected Climate Action Tracker, to underline that the world still remained far away from taking the actions required to limit global warming to 1.5C. 

Other Swedish activists, experts, and politicians were more positive. 

Karin Lexén, General Secretary for the Swedish Society For Nature Conservation, told the TT newswire that it was “encouraging that countries had succeeded in reaching agreement”, but warned that “despite important steps forward, the Glasgow Pact is till not a sufficiently robust response to the climate crisis.” 

She was positive about the commitment to meet earlier promises to provide climate finance to poorer countries, that the so-called “rulebook” had been finalised and that coal and fossil fuel subsidies had been mentioned in the report. But she said that poorer countries would need still more support to handle climate change, that she would have liked countries to raise their ambitions for emissions reductions.

Johan Rockström, the Swedish professor who leads the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said in a tweet that the deal had put the world on track towards a less catastrophic future, but still left a lot of work yet to do. 

“We came to Glasgow following a path to Disaster (2.7°C). We leave Glasgow on a path to Danger (just below 2°C),” he wrote. “Road from Glasgow is more action, more ambition, on finance, equity, 50% targets for 2030 & net-zero by 2050, and nature climate solutions.” 

Jakob Lundgren, the special advisor on climate policy for Sweden’s environment minister Per Bolund, said in a Twitter thread that the simple fact that the damage caused to the climate caused by the use of fossil fuels had been explicitly mentioned in the deal was historic.
“After 30 years of struggle, the damage done by fossil fuels to the environment has been recognised in a COP-decision,” he wrote. “This might be described as a failure now, but it could be the moment recognised in the future as the definite beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era.” 

Member comments

  1. For starters, Greta can clean up her language. According to numerous press and TV reports from Glasgow she was chanting “whatever the fuck they’re doing” and “you can shove your climate crisis up your arse”. Not the best way to lead an international campaign and gain respect for your words and actions.

    1. Ever think the point is to catch people’s attention? It’s not like decades of politely asking prior generations to not set the world on fire has gotten us anywhere.

      Also, choosing to police her language instead of taking the time to hear the actual message is kind of the whole problem here.

      1. Well, she caught my attention in Glasgow through her foul language and not through her ideas about the climate because it rubbed against the innocent schoolgirl image that she and her entourage and the press have developed over the past 2-3 years. It will be a sad day when the only way international speakers can catch the world’s attention is by using ‘fuck’ and ‘arse’ in their communication.

        I’ve listened to messages about the climate and global warming since long before Greta was even born. She’s just the latest in a long line of protesters and activists. They come and go, while COP with all its faults tries to get 197 countries to agree on major and radical changes to their energy policies that imply huge investment programs that will perhaps take decades to implement. Just organising 197 countries for 12 days in the same city at the same time is a major achievement!

        Greta is doing her thing, and good luck to her. Perhaps she will fizzle out over time or perhaps become an international climate expert. But I hope for her own sake that she cleans up her language. She’s never sworn in public before, so has she picked it up during her travels or is it a conscious move by her entourage?

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KEY POINTS: Why is Sweden planning to cull half its wolf population?

Sweden's government has announced that it will allow a major wolf cull this year, with hunters licensed to kill as many as half of the estimated 400 animals in the country. What is going on?

KEY POINTS: Why is Sweden planning to cull half its wolf population?

How many wolves are there in Sweden? 

Wolves were extinct in Sweden by the mid-1880s, but a few wolves came over the Finnish border in the 1980s, reestablishing a population.  

There are currently 480 wolves living in an estimated 40 packs between Sweden and Norway, with the vast majority — about 400 — in central Sweden. 

How many wolves should there be? 

The Swedish parliament voted in 2013, however, for the population to be kept at between 170 to 270 individuals, with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency then reporting to the EU that Sweden would aim to keep the population at about 270 individuals to meet the EU’s Habitats Directive. 

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency was commissioned by the government to update the analysis,  and make a new assessment of the reference value for the wolf’s population size. It then ruled in a report the population should be maintained at about 300 individuals in order to ensure a “favourable conservation status and to be viable in the long term”. 

What’s changed now? 

Sweden’s right-wing opposition last week voted that the target number should be reduced to 170 individuals, right at the bottom of the range agreed under EU laws. With the Moderate, Christian Democrat, Centre, and Sweden Democrats all voting in favour, the statement won a majority of MPs.

“Based on the premise that the Scandinavian wolf population should not consist of more than 230 individuals, Sweden should take responsibility for its part and thus be in the lower range of the reference value,” the Environment and Agriculture Committee wrote in a statement.

Why is it a political issue? 

Wolf culling is an almost totemic issue for many people who live in the Swedish countryside, with farmers often complaining about wolves killing livestock, and hunters wanting higher numbers of licenses to be issued to kill wolves. 

Opponents of high wolf culls complain of an irrational varghat, or “wolf hate” among country people, and point to the fact that farmers in countries such as Spain manage to coexist with a much higher wolf population. 

So what has the government done? 

Even though the ruling Social Democrats voted against the opposition’s proposal, Rural Affairs Minister Anna-Caren Sätherberg agreed that the wolf population needed to be culled more heavily than in recent years. As a result, the government has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to once again reassess how many wolves there should be in the country. 

“We see that the wolf population is growing every year and with this cull, we want to ensure that we can get down to the goal set by parliament,” Sätherberg told the public broadcaster SVT.

Sweden would still meet its EU obligations on protecting endangered species, she added, although she said she understood country people “who live where wolves are, who feel social anxiety, and those who have livestock and have been affected”.