Over the past year, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gained increased global attention for her work. From speaking in front of the United Nations to creating Fridays for Future, Thunberg did a lot. Her activism has made Thunberg Time's person of the year, but her work is far from over.
After learning about the impacts of climate change, the topic wouldn't leave Thunberg's mind. In August 2018, Thunberg sat by herself outside of the Swedish Parliament to pressure the government into meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
What started as a protest of one exploded into the global Fridays for Future movement. Building upon this ongoing action, students planned the Global Climate Strike for Future, which drew more than four million participants around the world.
Then in September, Thunberg and other youth climate activists filed a lawsuit with the United Nations. The lawsuit claims that Brazil, France, Germany, Argentina, and Turkey knew about the dangers posed by climate change but failed to take action.
The lawsuit was filed not too long after Thunberg delivered a speech to policy makers at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. The speech went viral, namely because Thunberg did not hold back.
"This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be in school on the other side of the ocean," Thunberg said. "Yet you come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."
Of course, people have organized against climate change before. Climate change and environmental racism cannot be separated from each other and, so, it was mainly communities of color leading the charge. Still, Thunberg's global profile has helped draw worldwide attention to a movement that spans decades.
“This moment does feel different,” former Vice President Al Gore told Time. “Throughout history, many great morally based movements have gained traction at the very moment when young people decided to make that movement their cause.”
Thunberg's made it clear that she isn't doing this work for fame or personal recognition. In October, Thunberg turned down an environmental award from the Nordic Council, stating, "the climate movement does not need any more awards."
The award came with prize money of 500,000 Swedish kronor (about $50,000 USD) which Thunberg also turned down. In an Instagram post explaining her decision, Thunberg went on to talk about the hypocrisy of the award.
"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 wrote. "We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing."
While social media is filling up with congratulations for Thunberg, the young activist is currently attending COP25. If you don't remember that name, you may recall Thunberg's journey. It's fitting that Thunberg is at yet another conference when this decision is announced.
It may be hard to keep track of everything that Thunberg has done throughout the year. But overall, her message comes back to the same, simple point.
“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” Thunberg told Time. “That is all we are saying.”