Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has refused to accept an environmental award from the Nordic Council, saying that the climate movement doesn't need any more awards. Instead, she implored the powers that be to “listen to science”.
16-year-old Thunberg, who rose to become the figurehead of the Fridays for Future movement, was nominated for her efforts by her home country Sweden and neighbouring Norway in the regional body for inter-parliamentary cooperation.
As her award was announced in Stockholm, however, representatives for Thunberg informed the public that she would not accept the award itself or the prize of DKK 350,000 ($52,000).
She later clarified her stance in a lengthy Instagram post.
“I am currently travelling through California and therefore not able to be present with you today. I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour. But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science”, Thunberg wrote.
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I have received the Nordic Council’s environmental award 2019. I have decided to decline this prize. Here’s why: “I am currently traveling through California and therefore not able to be present with you today. I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour. But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science. The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words. But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita - if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping - then it’s a whole other story. In Sweden we live as if we had about 4 planets according to WWF and Global Footprint Network. And roughly the same goes for the entire Nordic region. In Norway for instance, the government recently gave a record number of permits to look for new oil and gas. The newly opened oil and natural gas-field, ”Johan Sverdrup” is expected to produce oil and natural gas for 50 years; oil and gas that would generate global CO2 emissions of 1,3 tonnes. The gap between what the science says is needed to limit the increase of global temperature rise to below 1,5 or even 2 degrees - and politics that run the Nordic countries is gigantic. And there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required. The Paris Agreement, which all of the Nordic countries have signed, is based on the aspect of equity, which means that richer countries must lead the way. We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing. So until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1,5 degrees or even 2 degrees celsius, I - and Fridays For Future in Sweden - choose not to accept the Nordic Councils environmental award nor the prize money of 500 000 Swedish kronor. Best wishes Greta Thunberg”
While giving kudos to the Nordic countries' “great reputation on climate issues” she also reprimanded them for not living up to it.
“There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words. But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita – if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping – then it’s a whole other story”, Thunberg wrote.
While taking a jab at the Norwegian government's decision to give a record number of permits for oil and gas exploration, Thunberg called for “richer countries” to lead the way in environmental protection.
“We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing”, Thunberg wrote.
In doing so, Thunberg was widely celebrated on Twitter, where she was hailed for her braveness and humilty.
Leadership. Courage. Conviction. Greta is the real deal. Thank you @GretaThunberg for bringing millions along on your journey for change. We are with you.— Jill B Tracy (@jill_b_tracy) 29 октября 2019 г.
So brave and so humble 🙌🌍— Bill McCormick (@BillMcC60497215) 29 октября 2019 г.
That was the most vicious and respectful refusal i've ever read, i think. 😮— | 👻 A Scary Elliot Kills ☠️ | (@ASElliotKing) 30 октября 2019 г.
Others, however, suggested that she should have accepted the prize, if only for the sake of her Fridays for Future movement.
Greta, I think you made a wrong decision here. First I think that much more people in FFF should be involved in such an important decisionmaking, not only you and a few leaders in FFF. Second I think that both you and FFF need especially the prize money, more...— Ken H J E Swedenborg (@HSwedenborg) 29 октября 2019 г.
At only 16, Thunberg already has an impressive number of awards and accolades in her portfolio. While barely missing the Nobel Peace Prize despite being seen as a favourite, she was named Swedish Woman of the Year, and received the Norwegian Free Word Prize, the German Golden Camera, the French Liberty Prize, the Chilean Laudato Si Award, and the Scottish Geddes Environment Medal. Thunberg also received Amnesty International's most prestigious award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.
She was named among the 100 most influential people of 2019 by Time magazine and featured on its cover, as well as awarded an honorary degree from the University of Mons.
In September 2019, she received the first-ever Game Changer Award at the GQ “Men of the Year Awards 2019”, designed specifically with her in mind. The same month, she received the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, known as Sweden's alternative Nobel Prize.
Last week, she even had a beetle named in her honour.