The teenager behind the School Strike for Climate movement
Greta Thunberg will soon be 17. Daughter of a Swedish author, Svante, and an opera singer, Malena, Thunberg thought about her future in a way that few teenagers do. She dreamt of becoming old and having grandchildren but was afraid she wouldn’t be able to live that dream unless something was done to save the planet from what she calls, the climate crisis.
When Greta was 11, she became depressed, lost over 10 kilos in just a couple of months and was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, OCD and selective mutism (only talking when necessary) due to the lack of human commitment of all grownups to stop burning fossil fuels. Thunberg doesn’t want to be a regular teenager, she would rather takes action on the climate crisis, as she argues that the world is in a climate emergency and requires action.
Just over a year ago she decided to protest in front of the parliament in Stockholm, against the lack of action on the climate emergency. She has been protesting every Friday since then. Soon #FridaysForFuture and the #climatestrike hashtags became viral and her initiative international. According to Reuters, by March this year, while she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, the number of students taking part in school strikes hit more than two million people across 135 countries.
She was invited to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos, attended the UN COP24 in Poland, has also been a Ted talk Speaker, and most recently recognised as one of TIME’s 25 Most Influential Teens. In the next couple of days, she will receive the first Game Changer Award at GQ Men of the Year Awards 2019.
In mid August she decided to sail across the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht, as she was offered a ride on the Malizia II racing yacht skippered by Pierre Casiraghi, the son of Princess Caroline of Monaco, and the German round-the-world sailor Boris Herrmann, as she does not fly because of airplanes’ high emissions of gases. Actually, one of her major challenges during this journey was to convince her mother to stop flying.
Thunberg, disembarked in Lower Manhattan to speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, later this month, flanked by a fleet of 17 sailboats representing each of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN on their sails. Afterwards, she will head to Santiago de Chile, where world leaders will gather later this year for COP25.
So, what does she expect? In her last speech to MPs at the Houses of Parliament in London, she said that: “We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.”
For now, we can all support her cause, our cause, marching to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels and climate justice for everyone on 20 September. Workers, students, and Unions across the country are also organising themselves to set their voice in this urgent matter.