Greta Thunberg: The teenage climate activist tipped to win Nobel Peace Prize

Environmental campaigner delivered emotional speech to UN last month

Tom Parfitt
Friday 11 October 2019 08:00 BST
Greta Thunberg tells world leaders: 'You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words'

Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg is being tipped to win the Nobel Peace Prize following a remarkable year in which the teenager’s “school strike for climate” movement has grown to worldwide prominence.

Here is everything you need to know about the 16-year-old.

Who is Greta Thunberg?

Greta Thunberg began a lone protest outside Sweden’s parliament in October 2018 when she was 15, saying would refuse to attend school on Fridays until the government tackled the growing climate and ecological crisis.

In the 12 months since, she has become one of the world’s most talked-about people, having been invited to speak at the UN general assembly – where she invoked the wrath of Donald Trump – and inspiring global protests attracting hundreds of thousands of young campaigners.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” the teenager told world leaders during her emotional and confrontational speech at the UN last month.

“And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.”

How have people responded to her?

Since being thrust into the global limelight, Greta’s climate activism has attracted scorn as well as praise.

Some right-wing critics have, with little evidence, denounced her as a liar or a hypocrite.

Others have highlighted her Asperger’s diagnosis and suggested she is being manipulated by her parents, actor Svante Thunberg and former Eurovision singer Malena Ernman.

Greta has repeatedly hit back at her critics, denying she is paid for her activism or is being “used” by anyone.

Earlier this year she wrote on Facebook to say “there is no one ‘behind’ me except for myself. My parents were as far from climate activists as possible before I made them aware of the situation”.

Donald Trump mocked Greta Thunberg in a recent tweet
Donald Trump mocked Greta Thunberg in a recent tweet (AP)

Mr Trump, a notorious climate sceptic, took issue with her remarks at the UN, retweeting the video of her speech and sarcastically writing: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

Greta responded by changing her Twitter biography to read: “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has accused her of failing to understand the realities of “complex” world. “When someone is using children and teenagers in personal interests, it only deserves to be condemned,” he said.

“I’m sure that Greta is a kind and very sincere girl. But adults must do everything not to bring teenagers and children into some extreme situations.”

Will Greta Thunberg win the Nobel Peace Prize?

If Greta is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, she would be the youngest recipient of the prestigious award, which has previously been won by the likes of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.

She would also be the first person to win the prize for environmental work since Al Gore, the former US vice president, who shared it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007.

“It’s hard to argue against the impact Thunberg’s actions have had globally, and that’s reflected in her odds as the favourite to win the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Ladbrokes spokesperson Jessica O’Reilly.

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Other candidates tipped to win the award include the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, Native Brazilian environmental leader Raoni Metuktire and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Greta was nominated for the award by three Norwegian MPs earlier this year.

“Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace,” said Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy Andre Ovstegard.

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