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Inspiring Thursday: Greta Thunberg

“I’m not that special. I can’t convince everyone. I’m just going to do what I want to do and what will have most impact.”

Greta Thunberg inspires, challenges and acts – in a very short period of time, Thunberg gained more traction than any other young female environmental advocates. She has bravely stood up against members of Parliament not only in her own country but to many worldwide leaders to admonish their policies and demand action to address climate change and its detrimental effects.

Greta Thunberg was born in January 3, 2003, to a Swedish mother opera singer and actor, Svante Thunberg. Despite being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, this has not stopped her from expressing her discontentment with remarkable eloquence and self-containment. Her determined activism for the preservation of our planet was also a way out from depression and made her realize her potential and her value.

In May 2018, Thunberg won an essay competition organised by a Swedish newspaper. From then on, she was invited to meetings with the environmental group Fossil Free Dasland, an organisation committed to act on climate change. Later, the young activist got the idea from US students who refused to go to school after the Parkland shooting in Florida to organise a strike at her school. However, none of her classmates joined her, so she went on strike alone on August 20 with the banner “Skolstrejk För Klimatet” — “school strike for climate”. The following summer was particularly dangerous for Sweden since it experienced devastating wildfires caused by heat waves. Thunberg stated that she would not return to school until after the Swedish General Elections held in September 2018. She urged the Swedish government to reduce their carbon emissions to the levels agreed upon in the Paris Agreement of 2016. After the General Elections, Thunberg went on strike every Friday to protest against insufficient actions while still being on top of her schoolwork.

Her activism spread virally on social media. In 2018, she also hosted her own Tedex explaining her strike. She attended high profile events including the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2019, the European Parliament, the Austrian World Summit and more recently the United Nations Climate Summits in New York City.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” (UN Climate Change Summit New York, September 2019).

She remains true to her principles by being vegan and traveling in a high speed racing yacht powered by solar panels and under water turbines generating zero carbon emissions.

In 2019, Greta Thunberg was nominated by the deputies of the Swedish Parliament for the Nobel Peace Prize and Time Magazine named Thunberg one of the 100 most influential people of the year.

Her poignant speeches and clarity of thought have not left political parties neutral to her militancy. It has received strong criticism from the German Afd party and the US Republican party as well as great support from others like the UN Secretary General Guterres, Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy Andre Ovstegard and former US President Barack Obama.

Thunberg stresses she does not want to make her advocacy a lucrative endeavour and refuses to be paid by organisations who uses her name for publicity. She also states that she is not a scientist but merely a spokesperson to advocate for change.

On a lighter note, this year Thunberg also recorded a spoken word record with the British band The 1975 and has teamed up with a British writer and activist, George Monbiot, to create a short documentary on how to use nature to tackle the climate crisis launched in September 2019.

Greta Thunberg´s experience as a young female activist on the spectrum should truly spark women and girls to believe in their capacity as agents of change and motivate them to rise from oppressive or hostile climates. Thunberg also candidly defies our notions of normalcy and the limits we generally attribute to special needs individuals through her willpower and intelligence.

Written by Claire Davis, WAVE Intern 

Sources 

Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot on the Climate crisis. Britsh Council. https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/video-zone/greta-thunberg-and-george-monbiot-on-the-climate-crisis 

Davies, P. 25 of Greta Thunberg´s Best Quotes. June 2019. https://www.curious.earth/blog/greta-thunberg-quotes-best-21  

Laud, G. Greta Thunberg: Who is Greta? Who are her parents? All her climate change views. Express. September 2019. https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1182871/Greta-Thunberg-who-is-Greta-Thunberg-parents-climate-change 

Pettinger, Tejvan. “Greta Thunberg Biography”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, published 29 July 2019. Last updated 29 July 2019.  https://www.biographyonline.net/people/greta-thunberg.html 

Pointing, C. Who is Climate Activist Greta ThunbergLiveKindly. September 2019. https://www.livekindly.co/climate-activist-greta-thunberg-biography/