16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg was named Time’s Person of the Year, making her the youngest person to be awarded the title. But despite having started an environmental revolution (now dubbed the “Greta effect”), Thunberg did not expect the recognition.
“I could never have imagined anything like that happening. I’m of course, very grateful for that, very honored,” she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
Thunberg also said the credit should not only go to her. “It should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together.”
The “Fridays for Future” movement began with Thunberg skipping school on Fridays to protest outside the Swedish Parliament. Since Thunberg kicked off the movement in Europe in 2018, it has now become an international movement joined by the youth.
Thunberg expressed hopes for governments to listen to activists’ appeals to increase and improve their efforts against climate change. She also said the media should pay more attention to other environmental activists, particularly inidigenous people since they “are hit hardest by the climate and environmental crisis.”
Edward Fensenthal, Time’s editor-in-chief, explained that they chose Thunberg for increasing awareness of the worlds’ ongoing environmental crisis, citing how she went from being “a solo demonstrator with a hand-painted slogan” to speaking with pertinent public figures and inspiring millions to join the revolution.
Fensenthal wrote,“Meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earth’s existential crisis found one in Greta Thunberg…For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is Time’s 2019 Person of the Year.”