Teen activist lauded by magazine for starting an environmental campaign which became a global movement.
Greta Thunberg, the teen activist from Sweden who has urged immediate action to address a global climate crisis, was named Time magazine’s person of the year for 2019 on Wednesday. She is the youngest person to have ever received the accolade.
Thunberg, 16, was lauded by Time for starting an environmental campaign in August 2018 which became a global movement, initially skipping school 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.
“Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year,” Time said.
Thunberg, who turns 17 in January, continues to beat the drum, saying in Madrid last week that the voices of climate strikers are being heard but politicians are still not taking action.
The activist addressed the latest round of UN climate talks in Madrid Wednesday morning, bluntly criticizing world leaders for “negotiating loopholes” and using PR to make it appear they are achieving bold climate targets.
But the reluctant celebrity, who has been chased by cameras and attracted large crowds at the Madrid conference, has urged the press to hear from other activists and indigenous youth instead.
The former vice-president Al Gore, a longtime environmentalist, said the magazine made a “brilliant choice”.
“Greta embodies the moral authority of the youth activist movement demanding that we act immediately to solve the climate crisis. She is an inspiration to me and to people across the world,” Gore said.
Other nominees for person of the year included Donald Trump and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress.