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‘Blah, blah, blah’: Thunberg slams COP26, as UN chief warns ‘catastrophe’ close

Environmental campaigner dismisses deal reached at Glasgow climate conference; Antonio Guterres says much work left to be done

(L) United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during an plenary session at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 11, 2021. (R) Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks to the crowd in George Square the end point for the Fridays For Future rally in Glasgow, Scotland on November 5, 2021. (Paul Ellis/AFP)
(L) United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during an plenary session at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 11, 2021. (R) Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks to the crowd in George Square the end point for the Fridays For Future rally in Glasgow, Scotland on November 5, 2021. (Paul Ellis/AFP)

PARIS, France — UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned Saturday of an impending “climate catastrophe,” while environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg dismissed Saturday’s COP26 climate conference deal as “blah, blah, blah.”

And even those who welcomed the deal in Glasgow said a huge amount of work remained to be done.

Guterres acknowledged the shortcomings of the agreement, in a statement following the deal reached on Saturday evening at the Glasgow conference.

“The #COP26 outcome is a compromise, reflecting the interests, contradictions and state of political will in the world today,” he tweeted. “It’s an important step, but it’s not enough.”

“Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread,” he warned, adding “we are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe.”

In a follow-up tweet, the UN chief sent a message to “young people, indigenous communities, women leaders, all those leading on #ClimateAction.”

“I know you might be disappointed. But we’re in the fight of our lives & this fight must be won.”

A man walks past a shop with the phrase used by climate activist Greta Thunberg on its windows as a protest organized by the COP26 Coalition passes by in Glasgow, Scotland, November 6, 2021 which is the host city of the COP26 UN Climate Summit. (AP/Alberto Pezzali)

Thunberg, arguably the world’s best-known environmental campaigner, was more blunt in her assessment.

“The #COP26 is over,” she tweeted. “Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah. But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever.”

During the conference, Thunberg and other activists had denounced the way it was playing out, arguing that world leaders had failed to match their words with real action.

‘Hard work ahead’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained relatively upbeat.

“There is still a huge amount more to do in the coming years,” Johnson said.

“But today’s agreement is a big step forward and, critically, we have the first-ever international agreement to phase down coal and a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the stage after speaking during the opening ceremony of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. (Paul ELLIS / AFP)

A European Commission statement said the deal kept the targets of the 2015 Paris climate agreement alive, “giving us a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said delegates to the conference made progress on commitments to cut back on dangerous emissions, and on raising $100 billion a year to help vulnerable and developing countries.

“But there will be no time to relax: there is still hard work ahead,” she added.

During the final negotiations, China and India insisted that language on fossil fuels be weakened in the final summit decision text. In recent days, the Australian government has vowed to sell coal for decades to come.

But Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former prime minister, now the president of the Asia Society, remained hopeful.

“While the official text might have stopped short of agreeing to phase out coal, the statements made by world leaders in Glasgow leave no doubt that coal is on its way to being consigned to history.”

For Britain’s COP26 president Alok Sharma, the long, drawn-out negotiations had taken a toll.

“I apologize for the way this process has unfolded, said Sharma, as the final deal was clinched. “I am deeply sorry,” he added, before banging down his gavel.

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