Greta Thunberg, The 15-Year-Old ‘Radical’ Climate Activist Demanding Systemic Change

Greta Thunberg, The 15-Year-Old ‘Radical’ Climate Activist Demanding Systemic Change

On Saturday, around 10,000 people marched in Helsinki for “The Time to Act is Now!” climate rally to demand Finland’s politicians implement climate policies to curb the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and commit to zero emissions by 2035. The demonstration comes just weeks after the UN’s recent IPCC report revealed that drastic measures were required to keep global warming to 1.5-degree Celsius to avoid catastrophic environmental damage.

Also in attendance was Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish climate activist who garnered worldwide attention in September when she went on school strike ahead of the country’s election. With her parents consent, the teen skipped school and camped at the Swedish Parliament for a few weeks in an effort to attract attention to climate change issues and draw support from the media.

Her radical actions proved successful; in addition to being featured in the nation’s local media, her story was picked up by the BBCThe New Yorker and The Guardian.

'When we start to act hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope - look for action. Then the hope will come.' - Greta Thunberg, TwitterClick To Tweet

The young activist, who travelled to neighbouring Finland especially for the rally, stepped up and urged the crowd to demand the systemic changes required to combat climate change.

“Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day,” declares Thunberg. “There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground, so we can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change. Everything needs to change and it has to start today.”

Thunberg continued: “A lot of people say that Sweden or Finland are just small countries and that it doesn’t matter what we do. But I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to.”

Campaign organisers are calling Saturday’s gathering the largest ever climate march in Finland. Kaisa Kosonen, Global Expert in International Climate Policy at Greenpeace International said: “The effects of climate change are already felt around the world. Today’s march was a strong demonstration of people wanting decision-makers to reorient and direct action to secure the future.”

Afterward, in a press interview, Thunberg adds: “Even if there is no hope, we have to do everything we can. The climate crisis is urgent and we need to do everything we can right now.”

The teen’s actions have received support from environmental activists around the globe including educator and co-founder of non-profit climate action group Bill McKibben, who thanked Thunberg for her leadership.

Over a dozen groups and environmental charities helped to organise the climate event including Greenpeace, the Student Union of the University of Helsinki, Friends of the Earth, The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, UN Youth and WWF Finland among others.

You can follow Greta Thunberg on Twitter for more climate action inspiration and updates.

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Title image credit: Anders Hellberg / Klimatmagasinet Effekt

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