Climate activist Greta Thunberg faces systemic hatred, bullying and harassment

Expression

Ever since her passionate speech at the UN Climate Summit in New York, Greta Thunberg has been facing increased harassment and threats.

The 16-year-old started skipping school to protest outside the Swedish parliament for better climate policies in August 2018. She soon inspired many – especially young people – to organise climate marches - Fridays for Future demonstrations - around the world. On 20th September 2019, four million people joined the global climate strike, which became the largest climate demonstration in history.

The Swedish climate activist was invited to speak at the UN Climate Summit in September 2019. In an emotional speech, she condemned world leaders for failing to address the climate crisis and betraying young people.

“I shouldn't be up here…. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,"- Greta Thunberg.

Her words did not go unnoticed, but instead led to a spike in verbal harassment, especially from conservative politicians like US President Donald Trump. In an interview with Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Thunberg opened up about how the systemic threats, hatred and harassment are affecting her and her family. She is only one of many teenage climate activists who are facing on- and offline attacks for their activism.

In December 2019 Thunberg was named Time magazine’s person of the year. The title recognises people who "for better or for worse... have done the most to influence the events of the year".

Editor-in-chief of Time magazine, Edward Felsenthal, praised Greta, saying: "She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement."