#ShesGotVERVE: Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg is internationally known as the 15 year old climate activist with Asperger’s syndrome. Her SKOLSTREJK FÖR KLIMATET (school strike for climate) banner has been translated into dozens of languages and the movement can be followed all over the world under the hashtag #FridaysForFuture. She was inspired by the American high-school students who protested in response to the Parkland shootings and staged a walkout against the nation’s gun laws. On August 20th Thunberg began her own protest on the steps of the Swedish parliament and promised to strike every day until the Swedish national elections. In the last eight months, she has given a TedTalk, held speeches at the People’s Climate March as well as addressed the UN’s COP24.
Despite all this attention, Thundberg bluntly stated in her speech at COP24 that she doesn't care about being popular but she does care about climate justice and the living planet. She solemnly addressed the audience criticising that “our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.”
It was around the age of 8 that Thunberg first learned about climate change but her passion for the environment initially developed from a place of shock and distress. She even acknowledges that learning that the earth was in crisis played a serious role in her developing her severe depression at the age of 11. But her father notes that from this sadness she began taking action and advocating for the environment which significantly aided her recovery. She became vegan, convinced her father to become vegetarian and her mother to stop flying despite her career as an international artist. Her family cycles but have even bought an electric car and drive when necessary. Her experience is one to be recognised, a young girl “weighing up the existential threat of climate change alongside the agonising choice of what subjects to study in high school.”
She has been praised by French president Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and has shared podiums and platforms with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Like she said, popularity is not the end game for Thunberg, but real policy reform and political action. By striking she hopes for Sweden to be in line with the 2016 Paris climate agreement. She famously defended her skipping school to strike by questioning why she should be studying for a future that will soon cease to exist.
Thunberg explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each day, “there are no politics to change that. There are no politics to keep that oil in the ground. So we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to be changed.” She has inspired thousands all over the world, and while the youth are mobilizing, Thunberg constantly reminds us that it is not their job to save the environment, but it is for the adults, the policymakers, the influencers, the leaders to step up and start treating the crisis for what it is- a crisis.
Article by Social Media & Content Manager Yaz Omran