Happy 18th Birthday Greta Thunberg
As Greta Thunberg turned 18 this week it has reminded us of just how much incredible work this amazing young woman has done in such a short time and at an age where most of her peers are hanging out with friends, going to parties and concentrating on school.
The young climate change activist has somehow managed to get the message across to more audiences than most couldn't even hope for and has even made world leaders including Donald Trump sit up and take notice of a very real issue even though often they don't necessarily agree with her.
In a recent interview she was asked what her ideal birthday present would be. Her answer was "A promise from everyone that they will do everything they can for the planet"
In celebration of this astonishing young woman we take a look back at some of her defining moments.
Aged just 15 at the time Greta won a Climate Change essay competition run by a Swedish newspaper. In it she wrote ""I want to feel safe. How can I feel safe when I know we are in the greatest crisis in human history?"
Greta began her school climate strikes where she refused to attend school until the Swedish government agreed to her demands which were simple, "that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement" Instead of attending school she protested by sitting outside the Rikdag every day for three weeks during school hours with the sign "Skolstrejk för klimatet" (school strike for climate).
Greta had moved from solo protests to taking part in demonstrations and giving high profile public speeches. She continued to strike from school only on Fridays and with her social media following now growing exponentially, some 20,000 other young people joined her in striking from their own schools that month.
At the World Economic forum Greta gave a speech in which she passionately declared "Our house is fire."
Greta refuses to fly anywhere and in August 2019 she sailed to America in a racing yacht, taking 15 days. Once there she delivered an 8 sentence statement, rather than the testimony she was due to deliver at the US House Select Committee on the climate crisis.
Greta then travelled to Canada where she participated in climate protests in the cities of Montreal , Edmonton and Vancouver including leading a climate rally as part of the 27 September Global Climate Strike in Montreal. The school strikes for climate on 20 and 27 September 2019 were attended by over four million people, according to one of the co-organisers. Hundreds of thousands took part in the protest described as the largest in the city's history.
I was in Bristol on a mini break (remember those?) when Greta attended the Bristol youth strike for climate event. Being in the city and around College Green at the time, it was mesmerising to witness the adoration of a remarkable young woman from tens of thousands of people of all ages, genders and walks of life.
The day after Greta's 18th Birthday she tweeted "When your house is on fire you don’t wait another 10, 20 or 30 years before calling the fire department. When your house is on fire you don’t wait another 10, 20 or 30 years before you stop actively pouring petroleum on the flames. You act now. In every way you possibly can."
I think we can all take a few small steps in the fight against climate change. Whilst we can't all protest and give ground breaking speeches we can be the change that is needed and help to deliver Greta her birthday wish.