Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year

Thursday, 12 Dec, 2019

Thunberg has become a lightning rod, heralded by scientists and others anxious about climate change and reviled by those who consider her an alarmist.

Greta's dad, on helping their daughter: "We did all these things, basically, not really to save the climate, we didn't care much about that initially".

Those words resonated worldwide, energizing climate change activists and sparking a series of prompting scornful reactions from others.

The U.N. climate forum tasked with saving the world from runaway global warming has become an "opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes and to avoid raising their ambition" to act on climate, the 16-year-old told delegates and observers to vigorous applause.

Thunberg's uncompromising stance has brought her into confrontation with some of the world's most powerful people.

"If we just go on as we are, we are doomed".

She has spent the a year ago sailing across the world - she doesn't fly, for environmental reasons - to urge legislatures and corporations to act to save the planet. "It is wielded by people like Thunberg, leaders with a cause and a phone who don't fit the old rubrics but who connect with us in ways that institutions can't and perhaps never could", TIME said.

Time's editors write, "She gained global attention for excoriating world leaders for their inaction in the climate crisis in a viral speech she made at the UN Climate Action Summit in September".

She said the experience of the past 15 months, going from solo-protester outside the Swedish parliament to addressing world leaders at the UN General Assembly, had changed her. She has also spoken with the pope, the United Nations secretary general and other influential figures.

In the 16 months that followed, Thunberg has inspired young people around the world to join climate protests and on September 20, 2019, 4 million people joined the global climate strike. She has persuaded leaders, from mayors to Presidents, to make commitments where they had previously fumbled: after she spoke to Parliament and demonstrated with the British environmental group Extinction Rebellion, the United Kingdom passed a law requiring that the country eliminate its carbon footprint.

Ms Thunberg says she is mystified by the hostility of some of the reaction to her. "But then I found a reason to speak", she told the talks in Madrid.

Earlier this year, Thunberg had been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, recognised for her mobilisation of students in her "Fridays for Future" weekly school strikes.