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Greta Thunberg: A teen with an impact

If you have only read the news headlines about Greta Thunberg, you might have thought she is just another teenager with a romantic vision and over-enthusiasm to change the world. But what is it about her that makes her climate protection message get through?

The Swedish butterfly-effect

Greta Thunberg has just turned 16 but she’s already among the biggest names in climate protection. The Swedish schoolgirl first made the headlines with her three-week school-skipping protest in front of her country’s parliament before the general elections on September 9, 2018. This solo call-to-action, aimed at Swedish politicians with a concrete demand to meet the carbon emission targets of the Paris Agreement, has since evolved to worldwide school protests. It has also earned her a seat at the table at events like the United Nations’ COP24 climate change summit in Poland and the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.

Natural born climate warrior

Although the most resonant in the media, the parliament protest was not the first and far from the only attempt of Thunberg having her voice heard about climate issues. In May 2018, she has won a prize with her debate article on the topic in Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet and was nominated for Children’s Climate Prize by Telge Energi. Interestingly enough, her family heritage includes a Nobel Prize winner, Svante Arrhenius, who was acclaimed for his work discovering the warming effects of carbon dioxide to the Earth’s surface temperature.

Underage maturity

Thunberg has earned worldwide respect among top global decision-makers as well as climate activists, not mention her own generation, for a reason. She is speaking up as boldly as a 5-year-old, yet has the depth of thought and means of expressions that match those of the 65-year-olds. “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is” she expressed her conviction at the UN climate summit in Poland. Meaning: the “responsible adults” are procrastinating about making painful decisions to save the planet. While it comes handy explaining Thunberg’s boldness and perseverance with her confirmed condition of Asperger’s, her voice is also strengthened by a zeitgeist of empowerment movements and a purposefully used social media toolbox.

Change is coming

Putting a question mark to many common beliefs that exist only to comfort the welfare societies is never an easy task. Nevertheless, Thunberg has stepped up and become a leader of a generation that is considered passive and self-immersive. She challenges the leaders of her country, Sweden, that is considered a preeminent green economy. She is speaking up in a loud background noise of climate-change denial, dominated by US President Donald Trump. We are yet to see if Thunberg’s movement will be able to have a greater impact than the People’s Climate March at the 2014 UN summit but, if the consistency of the currently ignited protests is of any indication, she has a great chance to succeed. A peaceful army of teen activists all around the world has been taking action in Finland, Australia, France, and most recently in Belgium. They are here to let us know that “change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

Written by Anikó Jóri-Molnár

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