Environment activist Greta Thunberg will appear today in Bristol for a climate strike set to involve thousands of people. Here is a rundown on the Swedish teenager’s stunning rise to fame.
– She was born Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg on January 3, 2003, in Stockholm, to mother Malena Ernman, a professional opera singer, and Svante Thunberg, a theatre actor and producer.
– Greta first heard about climate change aged eight. She later said her realisation little was being done about it made her depressed, leading her to stop talking for an extended period and to stop eating for two months, during which she lost 10 kilograms (22 pounds).
– In 2015 Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, which she later called a “superpower” that helps her “see things from outside the box”. She was also diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and selective mutism, of which she said in a 2018 TEDx Talk: “That basically means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”
– In the summer of 2018, motivated to act for climate change, Greta staged a lone three-week school strike outside the Swedish parliament.
– Her strike gave rise to the Fridays For Future movement, which would eventually involve more than 100,000 schoolchildren going on strikes in more than 100 countries.
– She became the face of climate activism, and was soon guest speaking about solutions at rallies in Stockholm, Helsinki, Brussels and London, travelling by rail, bus or bicycle to keep her carbon footprint low.
– In December, 2018, she was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential teenagers of the year.
– Three months later she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Norwegian parliament. The following month she was awarded Norway’s Fritt Ord Prize for freedom of expression. She donated her prizemoney to a lawsuit fighting Norwegian oil exploration in the Arctic circle.
– This was the first of a host of awards she would be granted worldwide, which include Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award, the International Children’s Peace Prize, the Swedish Woman of the Year, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s Geddes Environment Medal, and the keys to the city of Montreal.
– In August, 2019, Greta made world headlines again for sailing, with a crew, in a 60-foot racing yacht from Plymouth to New York. She gave testimony – an eight-sentence statement – to the US House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
– She then appeared at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, telling world leaders in an emotional speech: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words … We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
– US President Donald Trump responds by tweeting: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
– In December, 2019, Greta became the youngest recipient of Time’s Person of the Year, for what the magazine calls “creating a global attitudinal shift” towards climate change. Mr Trump responds by tweeting: “So ridiculous. Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
– In the same month, Greta made the Forbes list of the world’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and won Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year Award for 2019. It was accepted on her behalf by Jane Fonda, who said: “If a Swedish, teenage, science nerd who has shopstop, refuses to fly and has never worn makeup or been to a hairdresser can be chosen a Woman of the Year by one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world then I think almost nothing is impossible”.
– Greta was invited to address world leaders again at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she said political and business chiefs were still ignoring climate change.
– In February, 2020, Greta is nominated again for the Nobel Peace Prize, to be announced in October.