Calling out climate change

The 16-year-old Swedish activist was the voice of the conscience before world leaders at the last UN Climate Summit held in New York, which she travelled to in a sailing boat from the United Kingdom.

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction’. With this message, accompanied by her dour expression, Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, aged just 16, occupied more pages in the press than the world leaders themselves at the United Nations Climate Summit on 23rd September.

Born in Stockholm in 2003, at the age of eight Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg was witnessed ‘global inaction’ when she saw a documentary about pollution of the sea and the greenhouse effect. The brutal impact this documentary had on her changed her life and her relationship with the planet and took a toll on her health.

After becoming depressed, she stopped eating and suffered from anxiety disorder, and doctors diagnosed her with Asperger syndrome, a neurodevelopmental variation that impacts on the way these people process information and relate to others.

Greta is part of a family of well-known artists. She is the daughter of actor Svante Thunberg and opera singer Malena Emman, and her paternal grandfather, Olof Thunberg, is a film actor and director.

AN AUTHENTIC REVOLUTION. The earthquake Greta has caused with her public outbursts initially had repercussons on the private sphere of the home, to the extent that her mother decided to stop flying because of the gas emissions, and now only works in nearby countries.

Greta herself went to the Davos forum by train. And she travelled to the UN summit in New York on board a sailing boat that gives off no toxic gases, after a long two-week voyage, setting off from the UK. She was accompanied by her father on both trips.

Moreover, she has transformed her home using sustainable materials. And in line with her environmental commitment, she stopped eating meat and meat derivatives.

As a result of her brave words to global leaders and her tenacity, she has been awarded the ‘alternative Nobel prize’, the Right Livelihood, by a Swedish foundation, for inspiring and amplifying political demands ‘for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts’.

Wherever she goes, this teenager with her blond plaits, freckles and timid smile, continues to make her mark, denouncing catastrophes, defending her right to live in a better world and proposing an indispensable balance for the present and the survival of future generations, ignoring the criticism heaped on her by her multiple detractors.