Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, is the face of the youth movement to stop climate change, and she has become a household name in environmentalism. She has been extremely instrumental in bringing worldwide attention to the issue of climate change and holding leaders accountable.
Thunberg continues to fight to save the planet, and does so by leading by example, protesting against the fossil fuel industry, promoting sustainable energy alternatives, and speaking out about leaderships’ failures to act by demanding more than words and broken promises.
So how did Greta Thunberg get her start as an activist, and what are some of her career highlights? Let’s take a closer look at this young woman’s activism efforts, and what some of the challenges are that she faces as she continues her battle on the front lines of the climate crisis.
How did Greta Thunberg become an activist?
When Greta Thunberg was 15 years old, her rise as an internationally-known activist happened seemingly overnight, but her passion for protecting the environment began when she first learned of the climate crisis at the age of 8. Within a few years, she had already made significant changes to her lifestyle including becoming a vegan and refusing to fly on an airplane, per Britannica.
Following a drastic weight loss due to an eating disorder, Thunberg was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, which she claimed was her “superpower” that helped her to see things in black and white. In her early teen years, Thunberg participated in local protests and got involved in several environmental organizations, but it was her first school strike that would project her — and her cause — into the international spotlight.
In August 2018, Thunberg began her first school strike at Sweden’s parliament building with a sign that translated to “school strike for climate.” Earlier that year, Thunberg watched the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. organize the March for Our Lives following the devastating 2018 mass school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people.
The movement inspired Thunberg, and she continued striking in the months leading up to Sweden’s elections. It quickly made headlines as more people joined her, and became known as Fridays for Future. Thunberg continued to speak out publicly, including several high-profile speeches where she became known for speaking her mind and calling it like she sees it. Her message was resonating with people around the world.
In 2022, she announced that she would be boycotting COP27, the UN’s Annual Climate Summit, due to greenwashing. The summit was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and it marked the first COP she would not attend since she first began going in 2018. However, she had previously spoken out against COP26, calling it a “PR Event.”
What are Greta Thunberg’s biggest accomplishments?
The young activist's biggest accomplishment is calling worldwide attention to the climate crisis, however, Thunberg has several other career highlights and remarkable milestones that she has achieved.
She founded Fridays for Future.
Thunberg’s school strike has grown into an international movement, Fridays for Future, where millions of students from more than 100 countries have followed her lead. Activists regularly participate in organized marches to demand action from politicians and for them to recognize and take urgent action against climate change. Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement was even honored with the The Ambassador of Conscience Award, Amnesty International’s highest award.
She gave an iconic speech at the UN Climate Action Summit.
Thunberg’s “How Dare You” speech at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit became an instant legend. In the speech, she pointed out that she shouldn’t be the one at the podium fighting, yet due to the failure of leaders, young people like Thunberg are having to rise to the occasion. She didn’t mince words when she conveyed her disgust with the lack of actions taken, despite the overwhelming evidence of the climate crisis.
She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and honored by TIME.
In 2019, at the age of 16, Thunberg became the youngest person ever to be named TIME’s person of the year. She was first nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for the mass movement that she sparked, and since then she has been nominated four additional, consecutive years for her efforts to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis.
She is a New York Times best-selling author.
She is the author of several books, including the 2023 New York Times bestseller, The Climate Book, which features insights from more than 100 experts in the field such as geophysicists, oceanographers, and meteorologists. The title of her first book, No One is Too Small To Make a Difference, has become a symbol of her ongoing efforts and an inspirational message for all.
What is Greta Thunberg doing now?
In June 2023, Thunberg graduated from high school, marking her final school strike, per CNBC, but since then she has continued to participate in other climate demonstrations. In July, she was forcibly removed by police for blocking oil tankers heading to a terminal in the Swedish city of Malmo, per The Washington Post. Following the incident, Thunberg was convicted of disobeying a police order.
In Sept. 2023, she was again forcibly removed from the scene of the protest (organized by the Reclaim The Future Group) and is facing additional charges for the same offense, per Reuters. Thunberg also pulled out of an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, after refusing to be associated with one of the event's sponsors, Baillie Gifford. Thunberg stated that the organization was greenwashing because it invests heavily in the fossil fuel industry.
Latest Greta Thunberg News and Updates
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