Greta Thunberg Hits Out At Politicians Taking Selfies With Her To ‘Look Good’

by : Julia Banim on : 28 Jun 2020 16:35
Greta Thunberg Hits Out At Politicians Taking Selfies With Her To 'Look Good'Greta Thunberg Hits Out At Politicians Taking Selfies With Her To 'Look Good'Shutterstock/PA Images

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg has hit out at politicians who take selfies with her to ‘seem like they care’.

Speaking during a series she has made for Swedish radio about her inspiring campaign work, 17-year-old Thunberg took aim at the supposedly hollow attitude shown by some world leaders when it comes to tackling climate change.


Showing cynicism towards the motivations of such leaders, Thunberg argued some wanted their picture taken with her as a means to ‘look good’, rather than as part of a sincere effort to bring about change.

While speaking before the United Nations climate change summit in New York last September, Thunberg addressed world leaders with the now famous words, ‘You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words… how dare you’.

However, the way in which these high profile individuals acted following Thunberg’s speech did not give the teenage activist much hope that they had taken her passionate words onboard.


Opening up about their reaction on the show, Thunberg described how German chancellor Angela Merkel, queued up to take a ‘selfie’ with her, an act that made Thunberg feel used.

Thunberg said:

Presidents, prime ministers, kings and princesses came and wanted to talk to me. They saw me and suddenly saw the chance that they could take a photo with me for their Instagram account. Then the hashtag #savetheplanet.

It seemed as if they had forgotten for a moment to be ashamed that their generation had let future generations down.

Greta ThunbergGreta ThunbergPA images

Thunberg clarified that it hadn’t just been Merkel who had made her feel this way, telling BBC News:

To be fair, it was not only her, it was many. And those kinds of things happen all the time. People just want to stand next to me and other climate activists.

They can post it on social media and it makes them look good, it makes them seem like they care.

When asked whether she felt ‘used’ by this sort of behaviour, Thunberg responded:

Yes, people definitely see me sometimes as someone to stand next to, to look good, and that is something I really dislike because that’s not the sort of person I want to be.

Greta Thunberg in Madrid, Spain for COP25Greta Thunberg in Madrid, Spain for COP25PA Images

This isn’t the first time Thunberg has taken issue with the way politicians have used her to create good publicity.

In a video interview with TIME in 2019, she confessed she tries to ‘say no to meeting with politicians’, remarking:

It’s just small talk, basically. And, of course, they want to take selfies.

[…] I’m a bit tired of selfies right now.


Greta Thunberg is the founder of global movement Fridays for Future, and has spoken about climate change with influential people from all across the globe, from Prince Charles to Pope Francis. In 2019, TIME appointed her their Person of the Year.

You can listen to the English language version of Thunberg’s show here.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Climate Change, Greta Thunberg, Now


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