The only award Greta Thunberg needs is a clean, sustainable Earth

Greta Thunberg, r m. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks to several thousand people at a ...
David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock
ByTebany Yune

Yesterday, while traveling through California on her way to participate in the L.A. Youth Climate Strike, Greta Thunberg posted on Instagram to publicly disclose her decision to decline the Nordic Council environmental award. Calling it a "huge honor," she nevertheless rejected the award and prize money of 500,000 Swedish kronor (about $50,000 USD) while stating that "the climate movement does not need any more awards." Instead, she again urged politicians and world leaders to follow the environmental advice suggested by current-day scientists.

Thunberg also took the opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of the Nordic countries' actions in comparison to their words regarding climate change.

"The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues," she 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 ... then it’s a whole other story."

Thunberg referred to data from the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Footprint Network, noting that Sweden and the rest of the Nordic region live as if they had the resources of four planets available. Yet even Norway has recently given a number of oil and gas permits and allowed the opening of a new oilfield that will produce fossil fuels for approximately 50 years.

The "gap" between what scientists recommend and what politicians do is "gigantic," wrote Thunberg. "And there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required."

In order to reduce the effects of climate change, researchers from the international community have pushed to keep the global temperature from rising beyond 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. This has become part of the Paris Agreement, where 175 countries agreed to a plan that would reduce global carbon emissions.

"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," Thunberg continued in her post. "We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing."

Until actual action happens, rather than flowery and congratulatory words, Thunberg refuses to accept the Nordic Council environmental award. The president of the Nordic Council, Hans Wallmark, told the BBC that they respected her decision and her movement. They will be keeping the prize money with the promise to "think carefully" over what to do with it.