Greta Thunberg has refused to accept an environmental award worth £40,000, describing it as a ‘huge honour’ but stating the climate movement ‘does not need any more awards’.
The Swedish climate activist, who has inspired an entire generation of young people with her ‘Fridays for Future’ movement, was honoured by the Nordic Council – an official body for formal interparliamentary cooperation.
Rather than accept the award and prize money for her achievements, the 16-year-old instead demanded politicians and people in power ‘listen to the current, best available science’ regarding the climate emergency.
After the nomination was announced, a representative for Greta told the audience she would not accept the award or the prize sum of 350,000 Danish kroner (approximately £40,000 or $52,000).
Greta confirmed this in a social media post after her nomination, thanking the Nordic Council for honouring her before going on to criticise Nordic countries for not living up to their ‘great reputation’ on climate issues.
The climate activist wrote:
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.
She went on to describe the gap between what the science says is needed to limit the increase of global temperature and the politics that run the Nordic countries as ‘gigantic’, adding ‘there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required’.
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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”
Describing these countries as having ‘the possibility to do the most’, Greta expressed her disappointment that ‘our countries still basically do nothing’.
She finished by stating:
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.
Greta’s nomination comes just over a month after the young climate activist stunned the world with a powerful speech at the United Nations Climate Summit about the climate emergency we are facing.
”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 fairytales of eternal economic growth.” Watch Greta Thunberg speak at the UN Monday morning. https://t.co/Akkxm9sXdr pic.twitter.com/ahHKlhbYaE
— WIRED (@WIRED) September 23, 2019
Greta told delegates:
This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you.
People are suffering. People are dying and dying ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is the money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.
For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
What an incredible young woman.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).