The teenage climate activist said the planet “doesn’t need any more awards.”
When 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was told she’d won the 2019 Nordic Council Environmental Prize, she turned it down, saying, “The climate movement doesn’t need any more awards.” Thunberg had been nominated for the $52,000 prize by both Sweden and Norway. The Council said Thunberg had breathed “new life into the debate surrounding the environment and climate at a critical moment in world history.”
But with her typical bluntness, Thunberg made it clear she was not interested in their accolades. Instead, she told them via an Instagram post, written while traveling through California on a months-long, plane-free trip through North and South America, what she’d prefer to see: “What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science.”
She called out the Nordic countries for “bragging” about their great reputation for climate and environmental issues, but pointed out that it’s far from the truth:
“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.”
While thanking the Council for the great honor, she writes that, unless the governments of Nordic countries “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,” she would refuse the award and the accompanying money.
It’s a clever move that puts those Nordic governments in an awkward spotlight. Thunberg’s refusal likely rattles their sense of complacency and the feeling that they’re doing something good for the climate by awarding her; hopefully, it will force them to engage in uncomfortable self-examination.