Greta Thunberg’s Environmental Impact

In August 2018, outside the Swedish parliament building, Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate. /Anders Hellberg via Wikimedia commons

BY LAUREN ESCHENBRENNER

On Wednesday, 16 year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was named as one of four winners of the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, known as Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. If awarded the prize, Thunberg would be the youngest person to receive such a prize for her activism.

On September 23rd, Thunberg delivered a speech to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit accusing them of ignoring global climate issues and only focusing on temporary profit and economic growth. 

In her emotional speech, Thunberg targeted world leaders: “You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

“I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thumberg said in her address.

United States President Donald Trump mocked Thunberg’s speech with a tweet, sharing a video of her speech and writing: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” 

Although Thunberg did not respond directly to Trump’s tweet, she temporarily updated her Twitter bio by adopting Trump’s comments to read, “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” apparently turning the tables on Trump’s mockery.

Thunberg, who is from Sweden, became known when she staged a protest, “School Strike for Climate” outside of Sweden’s Parliament in August 2018, calling for immediate action to combat climate change. Only 15 years old at the time, Thunberg’s strike has made a monumental impact in terms of engaging the youth in political, economic, and social issues around climate change. 

Thunberg maintains that world leaders are doing little to combat climate change, which is a severe issue on our planet. Among the effective actions she believes must be taken immediately is to reduce our use of fossil fuels. Thunberg set an example by traveling to the United States on a zero-carbon yacht to protest against commercial flights and their emissions of toxins into the atmosphere.