Climate activist Greta Thunberg was on Monday awarded a Portuguese rights award and promptly pledged the million-euro prize to groups working to protect the environment and halt climate change.
“That is more money than I can begin to imagine, but all the prize money will be donated, through my foundation, to different organisations and projects who are working to help people on the front line, affected by the climate crisis and ecological crisis,” the Swedish teen said in a video posted online.
She was awarded the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity for the way she “has been able to mobilise younger generations for the cause of climate change and her tenacious struggle to alter a status quo that persists”, Jorge Sampaio, chair of the prize jury, said earlier.
I’m extremely honoured to receive the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity. We’re in a climate emergency, and my foundation will as quickly as possible donate all the prize money of 1 million Euros to support … -> 1/3 pic.twitter.com/Eti6AJXSvj
The first 100,000 euros of the prize money will go to the “SOS Amazonia” campaign led by Fridays For Future Brazil to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the Amazon.
Another 100,000 euros will go to the Stop Ecocide Foundation “to support their work to make ecocide an international crime”, Thunberg said on Twitter.
The million euro ($1.1 million) is the largest prize won by the 17-year-old environmental campaigner who has also won Amnesty International’s top human rights prize and the Swedish Right Livelihood Award, often presented as an alternative Nobel.
She said Monday she was “extremely honoured” to receive the annual Gulbenkian prize.
Thunberg and three other young climate activists on Thursday launched an appeal to EU leaders to “face up to the climate emergency”, in an open letter signed by 150 scientists and a host of celebrities.
Teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg branded the EU’s grand plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 inadequate on Wednesday and said Europe is falsely claiming to lead the world on climate.
The European Union must stop “pretending that you can be a climate leader and still go on building and subsidising new fossil fuel infrastructure,” the Swedish activist told a committee hearing at the European Parliament.
Thunberg was addressing MEPs as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new draft law that Brussels has hailed as the cornerstone of Europe’s “Green Deal” to fight climate change.
The 17-year-old said that despite “disregarding” science, the EU was hoping its plan “will somehow solve the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced”.
“This must come to an end,” she said.
Earlier, Thunberg had been a guest at a meeting of top EU officials that approved a proposal to enshrine into law the EU’s ambition of net zero carbon emissions by mid-century.
This would bind the EU’s 27 member states to balance polluting emissions and the removal of greenhouse gases — such as by using carbon capture technology or reforestation — within the next 30 years.
The law, once ratified, would also give the EU executive new powers to impose emission targets on member state governments.
“When your house is on fire, you don’t wait a few more years to start putting it out,” said Thunberg.
“When the EU presents this climate law and net zero by 2050 you indirectly admit surrender, that you are giving up,” she said.
Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate has called out racism in the media after she was cropped out of a photo featuring white activists including Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer and Isabelle Axelsson.
Nakate made the comment in a video on social media which went viral and sparked discussions around representation in the climate change movement.
“We don’t deserve this. Africa is the least emitter of carbons, but we are the most affected by the climate crisis,” Nakate said. “You erasing our voices won’t change anything. You erasing our stories won’t change anything.”
The group of activists had given a news conference in Davos on Friday when Nakate was then cropped out of a published version by the Associated Press, a US news agency.
The AP’s director of photography, David Ake, told Buzzfeed UK that, under tight deadline, the photographer “cropped it purely on composition grounds”.
“He thought the building in the background was distracting,” Ake said.
The AP has since replaced the cropped photo with its original, claiming “no ill intent”.
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday slammed the business elite for doing “basically nothing” on climate change, as the Davos forum braced for an address from US President Donald Trump hours before his impeachment trial begins.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss Alps resort got underway seeking to thrash out dangers to both the environment and economy from the heating of the planet.
Trump, who has repeatedly expressed scepticism about climate change, is set to give the first keynote address of Davos 2020, on the same day as his impeachment trial opens at the Senate in Washington.
Before his appearance, Thunberg underlined the message that has inspired millions around the world, saying “basically nothing has been done” to fight climate change.
“It will require much more than this. This is just the very beginning,” the 17-year-old said.
Speaking calmly and with a wry smile, Thunberg acknowledged that her campaign which began with school strikes had attracted huge attention without yet achieving concrete change.
“There is a difference between being heard to actually leading to something,” she said.
“I am not the person who should complain about not being heard,” she said to appreciative laughter.
“I am being heard all the time. But the science and the voice of the young people are not at the centre of the conversation.”
While the WEF and individual business leaders have been detailing their own concerns about climate change, Greenpeace complained in a new report that some of the world’s biggest banks, insurers and pension funds have collectively invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2016.
“Pretty much nothing has been done as global Co2 emissions have not been reduced. And that is of course what we are trying to achieve,” said Thunberg.
There are no expectations that Trump and Thunberg, who have exchanged barbs through Twitter, will actually meet, but the crowded venue and intense schedule mean a chance encounter cannot be ruled out.
When Trump and his entourage walked through UN headquarters last year at the annual General Assembly, a photo of the teenager staring in apparent fury at the president from the sidelines went viral.
Tweeting before arriving in Davos aboard his Marine One helicopter, Trump appeared in bullish mood, writing he would “bring Good Policy and additional Hundreds of Billions of Dollars back to the United States of America!”
Although Trump’s Republican party holds a majority in the Senate and is almost sure to acquit him on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, the impeachment adds volatility to an already tense 2020 presidential election.
‘Governments continue to fail’
Sustainability is the buzzword at the Davos forum, which began in 1971, with heel crampons handed out to participants to encourage them to walk on the icy streets rather than use cars, and the signage paint made out of seaweed.
Trump’s opposition to renewable energy, his withdrawal from the Paris accord negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, and the free hand extended to the fossil fuel industry puts him at odds with this year’s thrust of the event.
“People are playing a lot more attention to” climate, Eurasia Group president Ian Bremner told AFP at Davos, adding there was “genuine action by some big players”, after investment titan BlackRock said it was partially divesting out of coal.
“But let’s be clear — a big part of this is because we failed for a very long time and governments continue to fail,” he added.
Business leaders are likely also to be concerned by the state of the global economy whose prospects, according to the International Monetary Fund, have improved but remain brittle.
The IMF cut its global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent, saying that a recent truce in the trade war between China and the US had brought some stability but that risks remained.
“We are already seeing some tentative signs of stabilisation but we have not reached a turning point yet,” said IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.
Activists meanwhile will be pressing for much more concrete action to fight inequality, after Oxfam issued a report outlining how the number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world’s 22 richest men now have more wealth than all the women in Africa.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed Time magazine’s naming of Greta Thunberg as 2019 Person of the Year, saying the Swedish teen climate activist should “chill” and go see a movie.
“So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!” he tweeted.
Thunberg’s reply came minutes later, when she changed the bio of her Twitter account to: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”
The exchange came after Time on Wednesday the 16-year-old, who last year launched the “Fridays For Future,” protest against global warming that has since grown into a worldwide movement and seen her tipped as a potential Nobel laureate.
The backlash on social media was swift, with numerous critics assailing Trump for what they saw as bullying, although some high profile tweeters came to the president’s defense.
“There’s a reason we don’t let people run for president until age 35. Greta is a good example,” said Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip.
Thunberg has become known for her fiery speeches to world leaders, and was that day in Madrid, where she accused rich countries of “misleading” people into thinking they are taking meaningful action against climate change.
In perhaps her most iconic appearance, she laid in to world leaders at another UN climate summit in New York September, thundering “How dare you?” in accusation of their failure to take action to stop runaway global warming.
She had arrived in the US at the end of a two-week journey on a sailboat — refusing to fly because of the carbon emissions caused by planes.
Her rhetoric, youth and diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, have made her a frequent target of critics.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed her as a “brat,” and following her September speech in New York, Trump quipped that she is a “very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”
Thunberg’s struggle began quietly in August 2018 when she skipped school for the first three weeks, and then on Fridays spent the day outside Sweden’s parliament with a sign labeled “School strike for climate.”
In a November interview with AFP on the eve of her departure from North America, where she had spent almost three months, Thunberg said Trump’s climate change denialism had helped galvanize her movement.
“He’s so extreme and he says so extreme things, so I think people wake up by that in a way,” she said.
Thunberg and Trump were briefly in the same small room as they arrived for the New York summit, with video showing the teen glowering at the president as he passed by with his entourage.
“I thought when he got elected, now people will finally, now people must finally wake up,” Thunberg told AFP.
“Because it feels like if we just continue like now, nothing’s going to happen. So maybe he is helping.”
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who became the voice of conscience for a generation facing the climate change emergency, was named Wednesday as Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year.
The 16-year-old first made headlines with her solo strike against global warming outside Sweden’s parliament in August 2018.
“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow. That is all we are saying,” Thunberg told Time.
The magazine interviewed Thunberg aboard the sailboat that took her from the United States to Europe after a hectic 11-week North American trip to several US cities and Canada.
Thunberg has taken her disarmingly straightforward message — “listen to the scientists” — to global decision-makers, accusing them of inaction.
The Swedish activist was in Madrid as the award was announced, at a UN climate forum tasked with saving the world from runaway global warming.
“The politics of climate action are as entrenched and complex as the phenomenon itself, and Thunberg has no magic solution,” Time wrote in the interview.
“But she 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.”
‘I want you to panic’
Within months of launching her lonely “School Strike for the Climate” protest outside the Swedish parliament Thunberg was spearheading global demonstrations by young people and demanding environmental action from world leaders.
“I want you to panic,” she told CEOs and world leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in January 2019. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
Her words spread like wildfire online.
The daughter of an opera singer mother and an actor-turned-producer father born, Thunberg has faced severe criticism — the latest from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who dismissed her as a “brat” — and been subjected to a swarm of online conspiracy theory.
Some mock her youth or try to discredit her because of her Asperger’s syndrome, a diagnosis she has never hidden.
Her diagnosis means that Thunberg “doesn’t operate on the same emotional register as many of the people she meets,” Time magazine wrote.
“She dislikes crowds; ignores small talk; and speaks in direct, uncomplicated sentences. She cannot be flattered or distracted” — and according to the magazine, “these very qualities have helped make her a global sensation.”
Thunberg says she is mystified by the hostility of some of the reaction to her.
“I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science when they could do something good instead,” she wrote on Twitter in September. “Being different is not an illness.”
She also insists that she has “not received any money” for her activism.
And with 12 million followers on her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, she continues to rack up high-profile supporters, from Barack Obama to the Dalai Lama and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg was awarded an international children’s peace prize on Wednesday, for her work in the struggle against climate change which has resonated with schoolchildren across the world.
Cameroonian peace activist Divina Maloum, aged 15, also received the International Children’s Peace Prize, awarded by the Dutch KidsRight organisation, which has been handing out the prize since 2005.
Thunberg could not accept her award in person at the ceremony in The Hague because she is crossing the Atlantic by boat on her way to an international climate conference in Madrid.
However she sent a message saying she was “incredibly grateful and honoured for this prize”.
The 16-year-old climate campaigner left the United States in mid-November, hitching a ride to Europe aboard a catamaran to attend a UN climate summit in Madrid in early December.
Thunberg rose to international prominence last year when she founded the “school strikes for the climate” movement. Tens of thousands of children around the world have now got involved.
“The climate crisis is the peace issue of our time,” said German climate activist Luisa-Marie Neubauer who picked up Thunberg’s prize on her behalf.
“We took on the streets for action and the truth is, today after one year of striking, the life of every child on this planet is threatened,” she added, criticising the inaction of world leaders on the issue.
Divina Maloum was awarded her prize for her “peaceful struggle” against the Boko Haram jihadist group.
“In Cameroon and Africa, when talking about peace-building, children are forgotten by the decision makers,” she said in her acceptance speech.
“I invite my fellow children around the world to rise their voice.”
The prizes were handed out by Indian children’s rights activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.
The children’s peace prize is linked to a 100,000 euro grant which is invested in projects linked to the winners’ causes.
Previous winners of the award include Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls’ right to education.
Former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan heaped praise on teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg but also warned that she needed to be protected.
Brosnan described Thunberg as “a magnificent young woman. I wish her every success.”
But in comments to AFP on the sidelines of the Deauville film festival, the 66-year-old Irish actor added: “She has to be careful, has to be protected.”
Urging people to become active locally in environmental matters, Brosnan cited the example of Thunberg. In many cases, he said, “it starts with the children.
“You can see it with Greta, who has such an influence, a powerful impact on young people,” he said.
Thunberg, still only 16, has become a figurehead for the climate change movement since sitting outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 calling for politicians to cut carbon emissions and curb global warming.
She is currently in New York for a UN summit on carbon emissions, having been offered a lift there in a racing yacht after she refused to fly there because of the carbon emissions involved in air travel.
Thunberg has come in for criticism and abuse for her uncompromising attitude.
He produced and his wife directed an award-winning documentary, “Poisoning Paradise” about the agro-chemical industry in Hawaii, where they live.
The film focuses on “the effects of GMOs, (genetically modified organisms), Monsanto, BASF, that type of farming which has a deep effect on the community,” he explained.
“Unfortunately we have a president who thinks there is no climate change,” Brosnan said, referring to US President Donald Trump, who the actor said was “rolling back so many environmental movements”.
Asked about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s politics, Brosnan replied: “Between him and Trump, this world is in a sorry state. It is shameful really what’s happened here to England. There could be trouble ahead.”
Brosnan played James Bond four times between 1995 and 2002 before passing the baton to the current Bond, Daniel Craig.
He was in Deauville, on the north coast of France, to accept a homage to his career.