16th October 2019

Greta Thunberg: The 16-Year-Old Environmental Activist Who Has Everyone Talking

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg is making headlines all around the world, particularly after her passionate speech at the UN General Assembly.

“A next generation leader” in the words of Time Magazine, you’ve seen her name across the papers, heard her ardent speeches on the television, and seen many major decision-makers and celebrities speaking her name (both positively and negatively)…

But who actually is this Swedish 16-year-old who has found herself at the forefront of the global climate crisis?

Who is Greta Thunberg?

Born in Stockholm on 3rd January 2003, Greta is the daughter of Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman and Swedish author/actor Svante Thunberg.

First hearing of climate change when she was 8 years old, Greta was astounded that more was not being done to stop this vicious beast eating our planet. In the three years that followed, Greta grew depressed, and soon stopped eating and talking.

“I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD, and selective mutism,” she said during her TEDxTalk in 2018. “That basically means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments…. 

“Everyone keeps saying that climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all and yet they just carry on like before.”

Greta convinced her parents to reduce their carbon footprint, even persuading her mother to sacrifice her international opera-singing career by giving up flying in order to help save the planet. 

The increasingly keen environmentalist’s influence soon spread to her classmates, and it was not long before she got international recognition for her efforts.

Greta Thunberg: School Strikes & Climate Change Campaign

In the widespread discussions regarding global warming and climate change, most will agree that children are the future, the ones who will have the biggest influence on the state of our planet. 

But first, we need to ensure our children and children’s children have a planet that is capable of being saved. That can only truly be achieved through the actions and decisions of the policymakers; the big businesses and politicians capable of making such widespread change.

Greta Thunberg is someone who is fighting for those people to make the necessary changes before it is too late. She is an individual who, despite being just 16-years-old, is ensuring the voices of the future are being heard among the voices of those to blame for our environment’s tragic demise.

Greta’s most controversial (and therefore effective, in many people’s eyes) campaign was the international school strikes, which began on 20th August 2018. This echoed the success of a similar movement in November 2015, when over 50,000 people skipped school on the day of the UN Climate Change Conference.

Just 15-years-old at the time, Greta took the day off school to protest outside Swedish parliament in an attempt to force leaders to do more to help the environment. Every Friday that followed, she would miss school to protest, encouraging others all around the world to do the same.

Now known as Fridays for Future, millions of students across the world follow in Greta’s footsteps every week to campaign for climate justice..

Criticism of Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg has successfully garnered the attention of some of the world’s biggest names, but not all of them have been positive in their feedback.

French president Emmanuel Macron, for instance, claims “such radical positions (as held by Thunberg) antagonize our societies”, while Piers Morgan (never one to shy away from controversy) recently called Greta “unstable”.

Following her recent speech, Donald Trump tweeted (somewhat sarcastically),”She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” This led Greta to respond by brilliantly mocking the US president via her Twitter bio.

Well-deserved praise for Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg has rightly earned a lot of praise and accolades for her hard work and determination to save the planet. Prior to her most notable campaign, she actually won the Svenska Dagbladet writing competition for an article she produced on the climate when she was first campaigning. 

This kick-started a huge cabinet of trophies and awards, which includes being nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize and Sweden’s Most Important Woman of the Year 2019.

The likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and various other climate-campaigning celebrities all shared her latest speech online, demonstrating their support for the 16-year-old.

Greta Thunberg Quotes

“This is all wrong,” Thunberg said in her latest, and arguably, most powerful speech yet. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Here are some of our favourite Greta Thunberg quotes over the last few years:

Greta Thunberg Speeches

If you’d like to hear more of Greta Thunberg’s impassioned words, check out some of her most-talked about speeches below:

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