Who is Greta Thunberg? Teenage climate change activist who’s inspired world-wide strikes

GRETA Thunberg has become one of the world's most high profile campaigners for action to tackle climate change.

The 16-year-old first hit the headlines in 2018 when she inspired international youth climate strikes and spoke at the Extinction Rebellion protests before she met UK politicians. Here's the latest on the teenager and her UN Climate summit address.

Who is Greta Thunberg?

Greta was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2003.

She shot to fame as the poster-girl for climate change awareness after a picture of her “school strike for climate change” was posted on Facebook by Swedish eco-warrior, Ingmar Rentzhog.

Her strike inspired tens of thousands of students from around the world to join her #FridaysforFuture demonstrations – skipping school every Friday to protest climate change.

Her work in the UK has included meeting politicians from all political parties in Westminster as the Extinction Rebellion protests took place outside.

She told them her future and those of other young people had been "sold" adding: "We probably don't even have a future any more."

The Swedish teenager grabbed the world's attention when she staged a School Strike for Climate in front of the Swedish Parliament in August 2018.

Greta was driven to take action by a record heatwave in northern Europe and forest fires that ravaged swathes of Swedish land up to the Arctic.

The teenager said she is inspired by US civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a racially segregated bus.

"I learned she was an introvert, and I'm also an introvert," she said.

The eldest of two girls, Greta’s mother is Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman while her father is actor Svante Thunberg.

Why did she travel across the Atlantic on a 'zero carbon' yacht?

The young activist sailed across the Atlantic in a “zero carbon” yacht to attend the UN climate action summit in August 2019.

She made the two-week voyage in the state-of-the-art 60ft Malizia II yacht – one of the fastest ocean sailing boats on the planet.

The £4m boat – skippered by Boris Herrmann – was fitted with solar panels and underwater turbines that produce electricity on board, with the aim of making the journey zero-carbon.

The non-stop journey eco warrior Greta made is – in theory – the lowest-carbon option to cross the Atlantic.

Before setting off from Plymouth, Thunberg accepted that solar yachts are not for everyone but says she was hoping to demonstrate there are alternatives to air travel.

“I don’t tell people what to do. People can do what they want,” she said.

Once in the US, Greta has continued to meet with fellow activists and addressed world leaders on their moral imperative to tackle climate change.

What did she say at the UN Climate action summit?

Greta delivered an impassioned speech to world leaders at the summit, saying they had “stolen my childhood” with their “empty words”.

She told leaders they would never be forgiven if they failed to tackle rising temperatures.

"People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing, we are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and the fairy tale of endless economic growth. How dare you?" she asked.

"How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight."

The teenager said emissions should be cut to keep temperature rises to 1.5C, beyond which scientists have warned the impacts of climate change become much more severe.

And she warned that the situation could not be solved by "business as usual" and some technological solutions.

"The eyes of all future generations are on you. If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you."

Greta looked furiously at US President Donald Trump as he unexpectedly arrived at the summit, before leaving again after 15 minutes.

The climate change sceptic then took to Twitter to mock the internationally respected activist, who is nearly 60 years his junior.

Greta, who has taken a year off school to bring about more action on climate change, will also be speaking at the COP25 climate conference in Chile in December.

What inspired Greta to become a climate change campaigner?

Greta says she first heard about climate change when she was eight, but couldn't understand why so little was being done about it.

When she was aged 11 she suffered severe depression and stopped talking which led to her being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and selective mutism.

Greta has persuaded her parents to become vegan like herself and to give up flying and she only travels abroad by train – unlike other climate change campaigners.

According to one profile, she doesn’t make small talk, explaining that: “I only say what’s necessary.”

After her school strike inspired millions, she continued to gain international attention after speaking at the UN Climate Talks in Poland in December 2018 before speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos a month later.

In March 2019 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by three Norwegian MPs which she said she as "honoured" to receive.

In August 2019, she said of the devastating Amazon rainforest fires that they are "a clear sign we need to stop destroying nature".

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