- Greta Thunberg is Time’s Person of the Year 2019.
- The 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist started the global climate strike movement when she sat, alone, outside the Swedish parliament in 2018. Now millions of people march to call for action.
- Time wrote that Thunberg “has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.”
- Thunberg has addressed the UN and the World Economic Forum, spoken to EU and US lawmakers, and has sparred with US President Donald Trump, while urging people to “listen to scientists.”
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16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has been named Time’s Person of the Year for 2019.
The magazine said that Thunberg was awarded the honor after she “began a global movement by skipping school.”
“Starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: ‘School Strike for Climate.'”
The global strike movement has picked up steam since, with Thunberg inspiring school children around the world to strike on Fridays, calling on their governments to take action to address climate change.
—Hazel Chu (@hazechu) October 21, 2019
This led to a global climate strike in September, when millions of people protested in cities on nearly every continent.
Time wrote: “In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.”
Collins Dictionary declared “climate strike” the word of the year in November.
Thunberg has attracted so much attention that she has drawn ire from figures like US President Donald Trump, who mocked her speech to the UN, and “Top Gear” presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who called her “mad and dangerous.”
But Thunberg has repeatedly urged lawmakers and the public to listen to scientists, pointing out that she doesn’t want the spotlight.
“I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists,” she told US lawmakers in September. “I want you to unite behind the science and I want you to take real action.”
Time wrote that Thunberg has “succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.
“She has offered a moral clarion call to those who are willing to act, and hurled shame on those who are not.”
Noting now Thunberg has inspired teenage activists across the planet, Time said: “It all happened so fast. Just over a year ago, a quiet and mostly friendless teenager woke up, put on her blue hoodie, and sat by herself for hours in an act of singular defiance.
“Fourteen months later, she had become the voice of millions, a symbol of a rising global rebellion.”
Time’s cover shows Thunberg on a beach in Lisbon, Portugal, after she returned to Europe from the US on a sailboat.
Photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva said she was thinking of how she could “make a portrait that combines gentleness and at the same time courage.”
“How do I capture the intense, focused gaze inwards as well as outwards, which I feel is characteristic of Greta.”
Time’s other four final candidates for person of the year were US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, US President Donald Trump, the whistleblower that revealed Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, and the Hong Kong protesters.
Time also announced Lizzo as its entertainer of the year, the US Women’s soccer team as its athlete of the year, Disney CEO Bob Iger as its businessperson of the year, and US public servants as its guardian of the year.