Over the weekend, the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations met to discuss a number of pressing issues, though perhaps none more important than climate change. While the parties left with renewed promises to address the climate crisis — though with pretty minimal actionable details — they also produced some embarrassingly awful optics, sharing expensive red meat-heavy meals and closing the ceremony with a fly-by performed by the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force.
The hypocrisy was not lost on Greta Thunberg. As the G7 summit concluded, the climate activist took to Twitter to roast world leaders for not only falling short of taking meaningful action, but for being incredibly embarrassing about it.
"The climate and ecological crisis is rapidly escalating. G7 spends fantasy amounts on fossil fuels as CO2 emissions are forecast for [second] biggest annual rise ever. This calls for steak-and-lobster-BBQ-celebration while jet planes perform aerobatics in the sky above the G7 resort!" she wrote on Twitter, before calling out the world leaders for spending the entire weekend "presenting their empty climate commitments and repeating old unfulfilled promises" with smiles on their faces.
Thunberg has become a master of channeling ire for those in power who pay lip service to causes that deserve real attention — and in the case of the G7 summit attendees, her rage was well-earned. While much was made of the fact that President Biden's presence represented something of a return to normalcy, with the United States finally back on the same page with the rest of the world instead of playing the role of the world's richest petulant child, it also served as a reminder that "normal" falls short of necessary.
While the countries involved in the meeting pledged $100 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to the challenges of climate change, there was little in way of specific solutions or promises beyond that. Instead, the world leaders offered recognition that climate change is a problem and something needs to be done. Gosh, if only any of heads of state for some of the richest and most powerful countries in the world happened to be in the room! Oh, wait.
Making the whole situation worse, the attendees of the summit managed to conjure up a handful of "Let them eat cake" moments. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the way on that front, arriving to the meeting by private jet despite the fact that it was being held in his own country and was accessible by train or car. He also decided to close the ceremony by having the Royal Air Force's Red Arrows perform a celebratory fly-by and aerial display that needlessly wasted fuel and filled the air with vapors, despite the ongoing problem of air pollution that we face because of our reliance on burning fossil fuels.
A simple request for our world leaders: If all you're going to do about climate change is make empty promises and half-assed commitments, could you at least just have the meeting on Zoom instead of flying halfway across the world? The visual metaphor is just a little too on the nose.