Greta Tintin Elenora Ernman Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist who gained popularity after protesting in front of the Swedish parliament in 2018. At the time, Ms Thunberg was only 15 years old. Since then, she has been nominated three consecutive times (2019-2021) for a Nobel Peace Prize for her climate change activism.
Early Life and Education
Greta Thunberg was born on January 3, 2003, in Stockholm, Sweden. Her father is Svante Thunberg, an actor, while her mother, Malena Ernman, is an opera singer. Thunberg attended Franska Skolan, a private school in central Stockholm, from 2010 to 2018, after which she transferred to another school in Sodertalje. She completed the 9th grade in 2019, finishing with 14As and 3Bs.
In 2011, when Thunberg was only eight years old, she heard about climate change for the first time. According to her, she was confused about why so little was being done about it, which made her depressed. By the time she was eleven years old, she had stopped talking and eating much and lost 10kgs in two months. She was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism. Thunberg described her Asperger’s as her “superpower” and believes that the reason why many people with autism become climate change activists is that they cannot look away and have to tell the truth as it is.
Greta Thunberg believes that global warming is an existential crisis that will disproportionately affect young people. She holds the adults responsible for creating this problem and speaks bluntly to political and business leaders all over the World about their refusal to take action.
Thunberg began climate activism publicly in May 2018, when she won a climate change essay competition organized by Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. After the paper published her winning essay, Bo Thoren, a member of Fossil Free Dalsland, a group focused on fighting climate change, contacted her. At one of their meetings, Thoren suggested that school children could strike for climate change. Although Greta tried to persuade other young people to join her, they were not interested. So, she decided to go ahead with the strike alone.
Greta Thunberg began a school strike for change on August 20, 2018. She had just started ninth grade, and she protested by sitting outside the Riksdag every day for three weeks during school hours. On the first day of the strike, after Thunberg posted a picture on Instagram and Twitter, it went viral, and soon, other accounts began to repost and take up the case. By the second day, she was joined by other activists, and the strike got the attention of several local and international reporters.
Since her first school strike, Greta Thunberg has expanded her activism throughout Europe. She has participated in several demonstrations and given high-profile public speeches, including at the plenary session of the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24), which went viral. She uses her social media to educate and mobilize people to take action against climate change.
Awards and Honors
Greta Thunberg is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Fritt Ord Award (2019), Rachel Carson Prize (2019), Ambassador of Conscience Award (2019), Right Livelihood Award (2019), International Children’s Peace Prize (2019), Time Person of the Year (2019), and Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity (2019) of which she was the first recipient of this prize. She also received the Glamour Woman of the Year Award in 2019 and was included in the Forbes List of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, 2019.
Thunberg has also had species named in her honour. These species include Craspedotropis gretathunbergae Schilthuizen et al., 2020, a new species of land snail; Nelloptodes gretae, a new species of beetle from Kenya; and Thunberga Greta, a new species of huntsman spider.