Greta Thunberg is a teenage girl from Sweden. Since the age of 8 she has been concerned about climate change. In September 2018 she launched a 3-week long strike from school to protest government inaction on climate change in front of the Swedish Parliament. Her sign said, “School Strike for the Climate.” Greta spoke about how Sweden, though with a strong green reputation, has one of the 10 largest carbon footprints per capita in the world. She was inspired to take her action by the students from the Parkland school in Florida after the mass shooting at their school as well as the unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires in Sweden during the summer. She later returned to school but continued her protests one day a week.
Greta’s school strike for climate inspired similar actions by young people in a number of European countries as well as in Australia. Many Australian students joined her Friday climate strikes. The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded, “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism.” Greta Thunberg’s generation is not likely to comply with his wishes!
Greta participated in the Rise for Climate demonstration outside the European Parliament in Brussels as well as in the Declaration of Rebellion organized by Extinction Rebellion in London. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowica, Poland in December 2018 Thunberg was invited to speak before the U.N. General Secretary, Antonio Guterres. At the beginning of the conference she said, “What I hope we achieve at this conference is that we realise that we are facing an existential threat. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. First we have to realise this and then as fast as possible do something to stop the emissions and try to save what we can save.”
Here is Greta Thunberg’s speech before the U.N. Climate Change Conference plenary:
Here is part of her presentation before the U.N. General Secretary:
Greta Thunberg’s father is Svante Thunberg, named after his ancestor and Nobel Prize laureate, Svante Arrhenius who in 1896 was the first person to document the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. Greta has Asperger Syndrome, yet has become a powerful spokesperson and public voice for serious and immediate action about climate change. She was named one of TIME Magazine’s most influential teens of 2018.