Born on 3 January 2003 in Sweden, Greta Thunberg became world's best-known young climate activist at the age of 15. In the summer of 2018, when heatwaves and wildfires caused Sweden’s hottest summer in more than 250 years, Thunberg decided to protest climate change in front of the Swedish Parliament. Requesting the Swedish government to reduce carbon emissions, Thunberg did not attend school from August 20 until the Swedish general elections on September 9, 2018. She protested in front of the Parliament every day, with her now-famous Skolstrejk för klimatet (School Strike for Climate) placard.
With the spread of her photos on strike on Instagram and Twitter, Greta quickly caught the attention of national and global media. Thunberg inspired countless young people around the world. In November 2018, students across countries took part in student strikes. In December, Thunberg was invited to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP24) and delivered a speech to world leaders, requesting concrete goals and plans for battling climate change.
On March 15, 2019, approximately 1.9 million students across 112 countries participated in global climate protest in over 2000 cities. On May 24, 2019, another global protest was organized in 1879 cities with the participation of students from 125 countries, which was another one of the large demonstrations. The week of September 20-27, which was named “Global Week for Future”, brought together 6 million people. Three days before the UN Climate Summit, on September 20, more than 4 million people joined the protests aiming to attract the attention of leaders before the Summit.
In 2019, Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by three members of the Norwegian parliament for her activism and she also appeared on the cover of the Time magazine. The effect that Thunberg, who has become a symbol of the climate movement globally, created is called the "Greta effect".
Towards North America
Thunberg, who wanted to draw attention to the negative effects of travelling by air on climate, sailed across the North Atlantic from UK to the UN Climate Summit in New York. Her journey from the UK to the USA in a racing boat that was equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines lasted 15 days and was carbon neutral.
At the Climate Summit, Thunberg called the inaction of the world leaders’ in terms of climate change a “betrayal” and condemned the lack of concrete plans to combat climate change. “You're abandoning us” said Thunberg, noting that the leaders are not “mature” enough to speak clearly on the reality of climate, but that young people are aware of these neglects. You can listen to the full speech here.
During her stay in North America, Thunberg participated in many climate demonstrations and gave speeches in Canada and the USA. In all the speeches she delivered, she touched upon the injustices that North American Indians are exposed to and pointed out that slavery still exists in various forms across the world and that major human rights violations are to the benefit of some in the world.
Climate for children - Why did Greta made a complaint about Turkey?
Thunberg and 15 other children activists filed an official complaint towards five countries (Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey) for taking insufficient climate action. According to the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the right to file individual complaints against countries who ratified the protocol to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. These five countries are among who ratified this protocol.
Between the signatories of the Third Optional Protocol; Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey are the highest carbon emitting countries. According to Thunberg, this is the reason why these five countries were filed a complaint against. Thunberg and 15 child activists complained that these countries violated children's rights by failing to take adequate and timely measures against climate change. This group of children from 12 different countries says that their lives are significantly affected by climate change and that countries’ emission targets will not be enough to keep global warming below 2 degrees. The aim of the complaint is to protect the children's future by pushing countries to take concrete actions against climate change.