Greta Thunberg named Time's Person Of The Year

11 December 2019, 13:29

Greta Thunberg speaks at the COP25 summit in Madrid
Greta Thunberg speaks at the COP25 summit in Madrid. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg has been named Time magazine's Person Of The Year.

The Swedish teenager began a global School Strike for Climate movement in August 2018 when she began sitting outside her country’s Parliament.

Aged just 16, she inspired millions of people to join the global climate strike on 20 September and has addressed world leaders at the UN.

She is the youngest person to ever win the accolade, winning over other shortlist nominees US President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ‘The Whistleblower’ who triggered the impeachment inquiry and the Hong Kong Protesters.

The announcement came hours after Greta spoke at the COP25 talks in Madrid, telling those gathered that "our leaders are not behaving as if we are in an emergency."

The magazine said Greta has “emerged as a standard bearer in a generational battle, an avatar of youth activists across the globe fighting for everything from gun control to democratic representation.”

It added: “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 said she has offered a "moral clarion call" to those willing to act on climate change, and "hurled shame" on those who are not.

Editor-in-Chief and CEO, Edward Felsenthal said: "For sounding the alarm about humanity's predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is TIME's 2019 Person of the Year."

Previous winners of the accolade include Mark Zuckerberg, President Trump and the Queen.

At the COP25 meeting, Greta warned that "even at 1C people are dying from the climate crisis" and the science showed that going beyond 1.5C risks destabilising the climate and hitting irreversible tipping points such as melting glaciers and permafrost.

She said: "Finding holistic solutions is what the COP should be all about, but instead it seems to have turned some kind of opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes and to avoid raising their ambition.

"Countries are finding clever ways around having to take real action, like double-counting emissions reductions, and moving emissions overseas, and walking back on their promises to increase ambitions, or refusing to pay for solutions or loss and damage.

"This has to stop."