“The power of youth.” It’s the title of the latest issue of Time, designating the young climate activist Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year 2019.
The Swedish teen, who has urged immediate action to address a global climate crisis, is the youngest laureate of this distinction, which has been awarded since 1927 by the American magazine.
Greta Thunberg was lauded by Time for starting an environmental campaign in August 2018 which became a global movement, initially skipping school every Friday and camping out in front of the Swedish parliament to demand action.
“In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the pope, sparred with the president of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history,” the magazine said.
— TIME (@TIME) December 11, 2019
She has since rallied millions of supporters to her cause.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said in a speech at the UN Global Climate Action Summit in New York last September.
“People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of endless economic growth”, punctuating her speech with “How dare you!”
Although she was approached to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the committee preferred to reward the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in October.
More recently, Greta Thumberg was at the COP25 climate talks in Madrid, where she gave a speech on Tuesday, criticising world leaders for “negotiating loopholes”:
“Well I am telling you there is hope. I have seen it.
But it does not come from governments or corporations.
It comes from the people.”
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 11, 2019
Leaving the climate conference, Greta Thunberg said to journalists that she was “very surprised” to be named Time’s Person of the Year. She said she wanted to dedicate the award to all young activists, hoping that their message finally reaches its goal.
“I should not be the one to be person of the year, it should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together.”
Although her frustration seems to have increased in recent months after meetings with various world leaders, Greta Thunberg keeps going. For her supporters, this repetition is her strength. To her detractors, she is simply repeating herself and should go back to school. The activist has tried to calm things down, inviting the more than three million people who follow her on Twitter to respond to insults with positive messages.
Greta Thunberg was selected by Time among five other finalists; Donald Trump, the top Democrat in Congress Nancy Pelosi, the United States women’s national soccer team captain Megan Rapinoe, the Ukraine whistleblower who sparked the Trump impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.