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How Greta Thunberg mobilised millions to act on climate emergency in just a year

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Greta Thunberg is among the youngest and fiercest climate activists alive today. 20 August marked the first anniversary of the start of Greta Thunberg’s strike for the future.

We’re taking a look back at the journey and changes Thunberg has seen in her incredibly powerful year in the limelight, fighting for everyone’s world like there’s no tomorrow.

How it began

Thunberg was 15 when she stood outside the Swedish parliament with a hand-painted cardboard sign that read ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ (School Strike for the Climate) and would continue to stand there every Friday till the media started taking notice. Slowly but surely her message began to spread. She handed out leaflets that read, “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” With sheer will and determination to make a difference, Thunberg kick-started what would grow into a global campaign for climate action.

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One year ago I started school striking for the climate outside the Swedish parliament, simply because something had to be done. Since then I have continued every Friday alongside millions of others. And we will go on for as long as it takes. #FridaysForFuture #SchoolStrike4climate

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on Aug 20, 2019 at 7:49am PDT

Since then she has inspired millions of youth to take to the streets, in a peaceful and non-violent way, to show their frustrations with the inactions that their politicians with regard to climate change. Fridays for Future (FFF) is an organization that Thunberg founded to spread the reach and scale of her movement far and wide. Several branches have cropped up world-over that organize local protests and strikes every week on a Friday, in keeping with Thunberg’s own tradition.   

 

 

 

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On the 24th of May there was over 10 000 strikers in Stockholm, Sweden. This short video highlights only a taste of what happened in Sweden that day! The 24th of May we was the second Global Strike For Future and both this event, and the strike on the 15th of March made history. Millions of youths standing up for their own, and everyone else’s future! We are not done yet, since the 24th we have been planning the next global strikes, so keep your eyes peeled for information and pay some extra attention to the 20th and 27th of September! You will want to join us and stand up for the future as well! Video via: @fridaysforfuture.swe A post shared by Fridays For Future (@fridaysforfuture) on Jul 8, 2019 at 12:42pm PDT

As an activist, she is taking on powers and authorities in the world, forcing them to take notice of the state of the climate and act on it. In her view, and that of her millions-strong followers, politicians and people in power ought to act responsibly and dramatically if the world is to avoid catastrophe. Thunberg’s media savvy, eco-activism has inspired a lot of people to raise their collective voices in protests, marches and online in support of urgent climate action.

Founder, the Greta Thunberg effect

The term ‘Greta Thunberg effect’ has been coined to explain the growing concerns a lot of children now have for the world and its changing climate. It also explains the increase in talks that politicians are now having after her speeches. This effect is not just limited to children and politicians – Sweden’s general public has started using the trains for intercity travel instead of flying, said the Swedish railway authorities. They are actually embarrassed to travel by planes because of the environmental harm it causes, a phenomenon that goes by “flygskam” or “shame of flying,” a word that has grown immensely popular since Thunberg’s public and outright refusal to fly anywhere. The hashtag #jagstannarpåmarken, which translates as #istayontheground, is also beings used plenty on Twitter.

Recently I’ve been invited to speak in places like Panama, New York, San Francisco, Abu Dhabi, Vancouver, British Virgin Islands… But sadly our remaining carbon budget won’t allow any such travels. Adult generations in countries like mine have used up our resources. (Thread->)

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 30, 2018

Many of the countries and their governments in the UK are finally taking notice of the need for climate change and beginning to talk about implementing policies. However, that is not enough. OT quote Greta Thunberg, “’I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day and then I want you to act.’

Greta Thunberg during her speech at the World Economic Forum.

 

Greta and the World

She was 15 when she spoke at TEDx Stockholm, revealing her diagnosis of ‘selective mutism.’ The complex childhood anxiety disorder in which a child is unable to speak or communicate effectively in certain social settings. As Greta puts it, that means she just talks when it’s absolutely necessary. With all the speeches she gives on climate change, shows the significance of the topic for her.

 

Her speeches have been transcribed and immortalised in a book, No one is too small to make a difference by Penguin Books the proceeds of which go to charity. A 15-foot mural of Thunberg graces a wall in Bristol, England. The lower half of her face is submerged underwater, portraying rising sea levels resulting from climate change and global heating.

 

 

 

 

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Some of my speaches have been released as a book by Penguin Random House. It’s out now! All of my earnings will go to charity. Just like the other books by me + my family.

 

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on Jun 2, 2019 at 10:14am PDT

She has also lent her voice to an instrumental song for the British pop band 1975. Proceeds from this song were/will be given to Extinction Rebellion on Thunberg’s request. In the song, she talks about the urgency that is needed to deal with climate change and encourages people to not just talk about it but to actually do something. Thunberg’s activism has precipitated a global change of terms from ‘climate change’ to ‘climate crisis’ and from ‘global warming’ to ‘global heating’. Thunberg has been featured in TIME magazineon the front page of GQ, and will also appear on Vogue in a special edition of the magazine guest-edited by the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markel. Greta has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Swedish minsters and received the Amnesty International Award for ‘Ambassador of Conscience’. She has also got the Prix Liberté award from France’s Normandy region this year.

Greta Thunberg on the cover of GQ magazine. Image credit: Twitter

In case you need any more convincing about the Thunberg’s power today, she has been invited to speak at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in the French parliament amid calls for her boycott, to the European Union and the World Economic Forum, to name a few. She has also met the Pope, the former US President Barack Obama, actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on one-on-one exchanges.

 

 

 

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Yes we can. #fridaysforfuture #schoolstrike4climate #climatestrike A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on Jun 15, 2019 at 6:47am PDT

Currently, Thunberg is sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a zero-carbon-emission boat – the Malizia. It is a racing boat owned by Pierre Casiraghi, the grandson of the Prince of Monaco that has been fitted with solar panels and other gadgets to ensure that her journey is carbon-neutral. She is making a two-week journey to the US in the hopes of spreading awareness on climate change and attend the important UN Climate Summit in New York. (You can follow her journey here.)

We are on our way! Leaving Plymouth and heading for New York. Follow our journey here https://t.co/qJn5ShWQbB pic.twitter.com/U2Lbv3Xgzs

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 14, 2019

 

Greta and India:

India hasn’t been spared, free of Thunberg’s influence. Regular protests now take place in many states – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai more than most. Protests are organized by branches of the FridaysForFuture organisation in India. Youth attend in huge numbers, receiving support from another climate action group – Extinction Rebellion. The silent protests and marches usually end with speeches from activists who have been working on the ground. While people in India too, are starting to take notice of the climate crisis (more so than Greta herself), she has undoubtedly increased climate awareness and participation of people in action be leaps and bounds.

Our leaders have failed us. Our system is a failure! While our coastal lines are threatened by man made #calamities, we stand united behind science, asking our leaders to declare a National #ClimateEmergency #FridaysForFuture #FFF #ClimateElection #Elections2019 #CycloneFani #sos pic.twitter.com/sIfuHqVL8c

— FridaysforFuture.India (@FFFIndia) May 3, 2019

Now, what India desperately needs is a climate action policy. A recent Greenpeace report found that India has the most sulphur dioxide hotspots of any country in the world. Many states in southern Indian are facing acute water shortages while the states in northern India are drowning because of excess and unseasonal rain. Other growing problems include longer heatwave periods in the dry North and prolonged summers all over India. Increasing temperatures and air pollution affect many states making it unbearable to leave the house in summers. Deforestation to increase food production is also a major problem in India. There has been an upward trend in the increasing number of farmer suicides in Maharashtra because of droughts that are also an effect of climate change.

We stand together! @GretaThunberg @FFFIndia #SchoolStrike4Climate #ClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture pic.twitter.com/ZFj1zDulR5

— Tech2 (@tech2eets) May 24, 2019

New young activists to look out for

There are other young climate warriors fighting for their right it live and for climate change all over the world. Licypriya Kangujam is a seven-year-old girl from Manipur, India and she is demanding the enactment of the climate change law in India. She is India’s very own Greta Thunberg and has represented India and the children from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in the UN’s in the sixth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2019. She has also participated in the 2018 Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risks Reduction that was held in Mongolia.

#Day75#Week9 Even the rain can’t stop us! Dear Hon’ble Shri @narendramodi ji, Instead of implementing temporary idea time to time, please enact the Climate Change Law in India to bring a permanent solution. @[email protected]@[email protected]@Fridays4future#ActNowpic.twitter.com/obQ24RlR7K

— Licypriya Kangujam (@LicypriyaK) August 16, 2019

Katie Eder is a 19-year-old youth from American and the Executive director of Future Coalition, a youth lead organisation that is fighting and suing the US government for violating their right to life, liberty and property by knowingly contributing to climate change. The organization has started the #AllEyesonJuliana campaign which has 21 youth activists who are plaintiffs (accusers) in the case.

We made some history. https://t.co/sQmgyJMyjG

— Katie Eder (@katie_eder) November 9, 2018

Nadia Nazar and Jamie Margolin are two young girls from Maryland, USA who have co-founded This is Zero Hour which is a movement working towards helping the youth find their voice with regard to climate change. They started their organization in 2017 and have organized many rallies, marches and protests with the most recent one being the D.C. Youth Climate Strike in Washington D.C, USA. They organized and lead the three day event that spoke about climate activism. Nazar is also the Maryland state lead for the U.S. Youth Climate Strikes.

I am honored to stand in solidarity with youth all over the world taking climate action: from @GretaThunberg to @Giraldo725 to @nadiabaltimore to @AlexandriaV2005 to millions more.

We are not in competition with each other, we are allies, siblings, and friends in the movement ❤️ pic.twitter.com/kUPViWQkLv — Jamie Margolin (@Jamie_Margolin) August 21, 2019

 

A year ago, I marched alongside so many passionate young climate activists in the pouring rain, demanding action to the climate crisis. It was just the beginning. @ThisIsZeroHour has come so far and we will continue to shake these systems that hold us captive. #thisiszerohour pic.twitter.com/PY3FIQiFWT

— Nadia Nazar (@nadiabaltimore) July 22, 2019

The Meek Family is up of the two sisters Ella (13) and Amy(15) Meek from the united kingdom. They have founded the Kids Against Plastic campaign to encourage people, businesses and schools to stop using plastic and reduce the use of single-use plastic. They were heavily inspired by a youth movement in Bali called Bye Bye Plastic and have recently given their first TEDx talk. They are also two out of the 250 British #iwillambassadors who are trying to make a difference in their communities.

Rid the BIG 4 single-use plastic polluters from your life and become ‘Plastic Clever’👍. We celebrate plastic clever businesses, cafes, schools, families and adventurers in an effort to make the UK Plastic Clever 💚 #BePlasticClever @KidsVplastic pic.twitter.com/B9tBvMQa9A

— The Meek Family (@BePlasticClever) November 20, 2017

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