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Influential Women in Climate Action: Greta Thunberg

Imogen Aley



March is Women’s History Month, and one woman who has made waves in the climate movement is 20-year-old Greta Thunberg. Taking a direct, sometimes radical, approach has given Greta an international name in the climate battle— one that means standing up against world leaders and calling them out on their stagnant ideas and denial of the climate emergency. It also means creating an international movement at just 15 years old and being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize while simultaneously regularly getting arrested for her extreme approaches to raising awareness toward climate change issues.

At just eight years old, Greta took a special interest in climate mitigation. She vowed to stop flying on airplanes and became vegan, eliminating two of the largest contributors to carbon emissions from her life. At 15, Greta began partaking in #FridaysForFuture, where she and some of her schoolmates skipped classes on Fridays in order to sit outside Swedish parliament to protest the lack of action on the climate crisis. Greta has since organized multiple climate strikes and protests, some of which have led her to be arrested due to her refusal to move, as she often chains herself to buildings.

Greta has been invited to talk at many climate events and conferences, where she gets a chance to talk to global leaders head on and force them to face the reality of the situation. One of her more famous speeches was at the UN Climate Conference in 2019, where she presented a powerful speech: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words…We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

Despite her pivotal mark on climate change mitigation, Greta continues to be viewed as a controversial figure in the fight against climate change. This is due to her sometimes radical approaches, and the fact that she is a neurodivergent woman. Former President Donald Trump even took to mocking her. Nonetheless, Greta was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2019 and 2020. Unfortunately, environmentalism is not looked upon kindly in the Nobel Peace Prize, so Greta was not awarded it; however, she did win the Right Livelihood Award. This award was created by Sweden to award those in the field of environmental science, conservation, and climate change, in order to recognize their actions.

Young activists like Greta are essential in today's climate. With the stagnation of politics and the allowance of old, oppressive ideas surrounding money and ‘economic growth’, there is a need for younger, newer voices in order to create change. Not only has Greta become an important figure in the climate crisis, she has also become an idol for women and the neurodivergent community. At just 15 years old, she made waves globally and brought attention to what feels like the end of the world.


Citations

  1. Damian Carrington, “Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” The Guardian 03/14/2019 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/14/greta-thunberg-nominated-nobel-peace-prize

  2. Johan Alander, “Climate Activist Greta Thunberg wins ‘Alternative Nobel Peace Prize’” Reuters 09/25/2019 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sweden-award-right-livelihood-idUSKBN1WA0L8

  3. Veronica Stracqualursi, “Trump Mocks Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg” CNN Politics 09/25/2019 https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/24/politics/trump-greta-thunberg-climate-change-trnd/index.html

  4. “Greta Thunberg arrested and physically removed by police during Oslo protest” Marca 01/03/2023 https://www.marca.com/en/lifestyle/world-news/2023/03/01/63ff9433e2704e52598b458b.html

  5. “Greta Thunberg” Encyclopaedia Britannica” 02/27/2023 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Greta-Thunberg “Who we are” Fridays for Future https://fridaysforfuture.org/


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