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Greta Thunberg Declines Nordic Council Environmental Prize, Says “Climate Movement Doesn’t Need Awards”

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Photo / Greta Thunberg

“what we need is for our rulers and politicians to listen to the research.”

In October, sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was selected to receive the Nordic Council Environmental Prize. The prestigious award is given once a year to a Nordic person, company, or organization that shows great initiative on the environment’s behalf. Winning it is an honor, filled with deep sentiment and 350,000 Danish kroner ($52,000). Greta Thunberg, however, is not interested in making money off of her cause, and she is way past sentiment.

In an Instagram post made earlier this week (see embed below), Thunberg expressed her gratitude for being offered the award, and she applauded the Nordic countries for their environmental ingenuities so far. However, she declined to accept the Council Prize, stating that “the climate movement doesn’t need awards” and that the governments handing them out should show their support by listening to science and creating more effective environmental policies.

She specifically called out the Nordic countries for the fact that despite their efforts, they could still be doing more to protect the environment. Bitingly, she posted, “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.”

Calling out the Richest Countries to do the most – and Lead the Way to Solutions

Thunberg’s declination to accept the award and its accompanying money is emblematic of her message—less rhetoric, more action. Instead of focusing on symbols, Greta campaigns for concrete change, meeting with world leaders to push for policies that directly combat the climate crisis.

During the time that she could have been accepting the award, Greta was doing what she does best: working restlessly on the other side of the globe. While two other climate activists spoke on Thunberg’s behalf at the Nordic ceremony, the young activist herself was in California, addressing the Golden State in the wake of its wildfires. 

Thunberg has been a leading climate activist for over a year now. She dropped out of school to pursue this career on a global scale, inspiring many people to follow in her footsteps and realize how urgent of an issue climate change really is. We don’t know what the future holds for Miss Thunberg, but all indications are that we can expect it to be propitious, and will root for her no matter how many awards she receives or refuses. 

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 billion 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


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