Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who inspired a global movement of student strikes to fight the climate crisis, has just been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. This makes the 16-year old is the youngest person to ever be chosen since Time began the tradition in 1927.
In an announcement made on American television network NBC, Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said: “She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.”
Ever since Thunberg began her lone strike outside the Swedish parliament building to criticise the government for climate inaction, she has become an iconic figure spearheading a global climate movement, with students all over the world joining her to take to the streets every Friday. She has spoken at multiple events hosted by international bodies, including the United Nations, and has not shied away from pointing out governments and corporations’ responsibility over the most urgent emergency the planet has ever faced. At the New York United Nations Climate Conference in September, for instance, Thunberg made her heart-wrenching speech, where she said: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
Her title as the 2019 Time Person of the Year comes after several other awards have recognised the work of Thunberg. Just a few days ago, PETA announced that the teenage climate activist will be their Youth Role Model of the Year for 2019. She was also nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year.
Speaking at a United Nations climate summit in Madrid prior to Time magazine’s announcement, Thunberg blasted world powers for their constant efforts to “negotiate loopholes and avoid raising their ambition,” adding a warning to politicians and companies who are “making it look like real action is happening when, in fact, almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”
Her work as one of the leading faces of the global climate movement, which has garnered much more attention this year, has led to a number of knock-on positive results that fans have dubbed the “Greta effect”. Not only has she managed to contributed to the growing popularity of a plant-based diet as an ethical and low-carbon choice, publishers and organisations say that Thunberg has driven the uptick in sales of environmental children’s books and carbon offsetting efforts.
Time magazine’s list of nominees this year included notable figures and world leaders, such as Duchess of Essex Meghan Markle and US Democratic Party and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi among others. The magazine also had a readers’ poll, which asked voters to pick who had the most impact in 2019, which saw Hong Kong protesters coming in at first choice with 27 million votes.
Lead image courtesy of TIME.