"Climate Movement Doesn't Need Awards," Greta Thunberg Declines Prize

"What we need is for lawmakers and people in power to start listening to the current, best possible science," wrote Thunberg on declining the award.

Saumya Rastogi
Oct 31, 2019 09:16 IST
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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has declined to accept the Nordic Council environmental award, saying the climate movement needed people holding power to begin listening to science, and not "more awards".


The 16-year-old climate activist was felicitated at a Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council, which is a regional body for inter-parliamentary cooperation. She had been nominated for her activism by both Sweden and Norway. However, Thunberg's spokesperson informed the audience after the announcement was made that she would not accept the prize sum of 350,000 Danish kroner (about $52,000 or €46,800), The Guardian reported. Since Thunberg is in California currently, a statement was read on her behalf by fellow climate activists. Sofia and Isabella Axelsson quoted Thunberg as saying, "What we need is for our rulers and politicians to listen to the research," reports India Today.

The Nordic Council gives annual prizes for literature, youth literature, film, music and the environment, each year worth 350,000 Danish kroner ($52,000).

However, this is not the first time the climate activist has been awarded or nominated for a prize. Thunberg was a frontrunner for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, for her climate change activism and the conversation and awareness that it had created worldwide. Last year, Thunberg also declined another award, the Children’s Climate Prize, which is presented by a Swedish electricity company. This was because many of the finalists had to fly to Stockholm for the ceremony and Greta opined that air travel was a big contributor to global warming. Not the one to shy away from her own words, Thunberg chose to travel on a zero-emission sailboat to the United States in September.

She also won the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, "for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts."

Also Read: Toxic Cities: How Every Citizen Can Be A Pollution Fighter

Instagram Post to clear her stand

She discussed the choice she made in an Instagram post from the US. Greta wrote that the climate movement does not need any more awards. "What we need is for lawmakers and people in power to start listening to the current, best possible science". She acknowledged the Nordic Council for the "grand honour". But, criticised the Nordic countries for not living up to their "great name" on climate concern.

View this post on Instagram

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”

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on

"There is no lack of boasting about this. There is no lack of wonderful words. But when it comes to our present emissions and our environmental footprints per capita, then it's a completely different story," Thunberg said.

Thunberg rose to fame after she began spending her Fridays outside Sweden's parliament in August 2018, carrying a signage reading "School strike for climate".

Also Read: Meet Climate Activist Ridhima Pandey, India’s Greta Thunberg

Image: BBC

Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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