Greta Thunberg’s journey from average teen to the global voice of an entire generation is nothing short of extraordinary. Perhaps more remarkable is the fact that she shows no signs of slowing down.
By all accounts, her leadership skills – and her movement – are only growing. Greta Thunberg’s net worth is growing, too, and she is using all available resources in pursuit of her goal to protect the world from irreversible and deadly climate change.
Greta Thunberg Rise to Fame
Ninth grade is generally a time when students try to fit in – not stand out. Most 15-year-olds are getting settled into high school, participating in sports, spending time with friends, and starting to think about what comes next. Not so for Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.
In 2018, Thunberg launched a solo strike against climate change, skipping school to picket outside the Swedish parliament building. She carried a sign that said, “Skolstrejk för klimatet” which translates to “School Strike for Climate”, and her demands were clear. She wanted a commitment from the Swedish government to reduce emissions by 15 percent per year.
She protested alone for a day or two, but soon, she was joined by others of all ages. They continued the daily strike until the 2018 election was complete, then Thunberg launched her signature “Fridays for Future” movement. Each Friday, Thunberg continues her protest, and she has encouraged students around the world to join her. Fridays for Future took off, inspiring activists in dozens of nations.
In September of 2019, Thunberg led the world in a day of action just before the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Millions of people in 161 separate countries participated, leaving work and school to march and speak out against the policies contributing to a climate crisis. It was the largest climate strike in history to date.
In less than two years, Thunberg has gone from lone student activist to the leader of a global movement. She has spoken to the United States’ Congress, the United Kingdom’s Parliament, and the United Nations, among others.
In 2019, Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and shortly after that, she was recognized as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year – the youngest person ever selected for this honor.
Greta Thunberg Climate Change
Greta Thunberg is passionate about climate change, because she has studied the underlying science.
Even the policies already being considered – cutting emissions by 50 percent within ten years – leaves future generations with grim prospects.
In speech after speech, Thunberg points out that a 50 percent emissions reduction within ten years doesn’t guarantee that global warming will stay under the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal. If successful, scientists give this plan a 50 percent chance of success.
She frequently points out that the predicted 50 percent chance of success may be too optimistic, as there are a host of factors not included in this calculation. Even a minor increase in global temperatures could set off a chain reaction that can’t be stopped.
Thunberg admits that she is terrified of the consequences of a rise in average temperatures, and she is stunned and horrified that lawmakers in a position to effect change are failing to act.
She notes that this failure may leave her generation and those that follow with a planet that is all but uninhabitable. At the very least, lives and livelihoods will be lost, forcing millions or billions into deep, unrelenting poverty.
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Greta Thunberg Speeches
Thunberg’s ability to inspire and motivate is, perhaps, her biggest gift.
While climate change is of great concern to large portions of the world population, many are uncertain about how to take effective action. Thunberg is a passionate speaker, and her words have prompted people from all walks of life to make protecting the climate a top priority.
Some of Thunberg’s most memorable speeches include the following:
Climate March, Stockholm, September 13, 2018
To all of you who choose to look the other way every day because you seem more frightened of the changes that can prevent catastrophic climate change than the catastrophic climate change itself.
Your silence is almost worst of all.
The future of all the coming generations rests on your shoulders.
European Parliament, Strasbourg, April 16, 2019
My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden and I want you to panic. I want you to act as if your house was on fire.
U.S. Congress, Washington DC, September 18, 2019
And yet, wherever I go I seem to be surrounded by fairytales. Business leaders, elected officials all across the political spectrum spending their time making up and telling bedtime stories that soothe us, that make us go back to sleep.
UN Climate Summit, New York City, 23 September 2019
This is all wrong. 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. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
…You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.
We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.
Thunberg doesn’t pull her punches. She is firm and direct as she reviews the science, outlines the potential consequences of inaction, and puts the people in power on notice that they will be held accountable for their decisions in this critical time.
Time Person of the Year
Time Magazine has been a media staple since its first issue, which hit newsstands on March 3, 1923. In early 1928, on a whim, editors decided to release a Man of the Year issue, which would feature their pick of the person who had been most influential, for better or worse, in the previous 12 months.
The first Man of the Year was Charles Lindbergh, the national hero who flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 33 hours and 39 minutes.
In 1937, the magazine featured its first Woman of the Year, honoring Wallis Simpson – the divorcee who prompted Prince Edward to abdicate his throne.
In 1999, Time renamed the award to the more gender-neutral Person of the Year. Other honorees have included Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, the Peacemakers of 1993, AIDS researcher David Ho, The Whistleblowers of 2002, and the The Silence Breakers of 2017.
In 2019, Greta Thunberg joined that distinguished list as the youngest person ever to be named a Time Magazine Person of the Year.
For the editors who made the final selection, the choice was simple. They knew that the true influencers of 2019 were not the men and women leading massive organizations or entire nations. They said of the choice to nominate Thunberg:
But in this moment when so many traditional institutions seem to be failing us, amid staggering inequality and social upheaval and political paralysis, we are seeing new kinds of influence take hold. It is wielded by people like Thunberg, leaders with a cause and a phone who don’t fit the old rubrics but who connect with us in ways that institutions can’t and perhaps never could.
The article describing Thunberg is compelling. It doesn’t use glowing terms to flatter her, and it is, in fact, focused on how normal her life was before her rise to fame.
It is clear that Thunberg was selected as Person of the Year, because of the extraordinary courage she demonstrated by leaving her comfortable life to change the world.
Greta Thunberg Awards and Honors
Since 2018, Greta Thunberg has been nominated and selected for some of the world’s most prestigious awards, and the list continues to grow. Some notable honors include:
- Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Teens – 2018
- Nobel Peace Prize Nomination – 2019
- Swedish Woman of the Year – 2019
- Rachel Carson Prize – 2019
- Fritt Ord Award celebrating Freedom of Speech – 2019
- Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People – 2019
- Laudato si’ Prize, awarded under Pope Francis – 2019
- Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award – 2019
- The Geddes Environmental Medal – 2019
- Right Livelihood Award – 2019
- International Children’s Peace Prize – 2019
- Nordic Council Environment Prize – 2019
- Time Magazine’s Person of the Year – 2019
- Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year – 2019
- Forbes Magazine’s List of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women – 2019
- Human Act Award – 2020
- Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity – 2020
It’s important to note that Thunberg has made it clear she is not interested in achieving fame and fortune through her activism.
She will not travel in person to accept awards, even if that means she must forfeit them, if travel contributes to her carbon footprint.
More than that, she firmly declined the Nordic Council Environment Prize in October 2019 – along with the substantial cash award – because, she said, Nordic countries are not taking decisive action to cut carbon emissions.
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How Much is
Greta Thunberg’s Net Worth?
Given the value of the many cash prizes Thunberg has been awarded, many have speculated that she must be a millionaire. While her financial details have not been made public, it appears that those speculations are flat out wrong.
One of the most remarkable things about Thunberg is her consistency when it comes to living her values. The cash prizes that come along with winning prestigious awards are distributed to environmental groups hard at work on combating climate change. She does this through her non-profit organization, The Greta Thunberg Foundation, which she founded with the 1 million Swedish Krona ($102,062) she received when she won the Right Livelihood Award in December 2019.
When Thunberg was awarded $1.15 million with the 2020 Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, she quickly pledged every penny to the organizations on the front lines of climate change.
She has already announced a donation of $231,000 to the SOS Amazonia campaign and the Stop Ecocide Foundation.
The Greta Effect
On July 21st, Thunberg appeared as a guest on Steven Colbert’s The Late Show to further her message. However, the most important comment she made wasn’t specific to climate change. When describing the launch of her School Strike for Climate, she said:
I didn’t have any expectations at all. I just thought I needed to do something. It is my moral duty as a human being to do anything. I just thought I would do something and started school striking. And then it exploded from there.
It’s a reminder to anyone who has ever seen an overwhelming problem and felt too small to make a difference – change starts with small steps and individual voices. Eventually, those individual voices combine to become a roar that can’t be ignored.
This concept has come to be known as the Greta Effect, which references the transformation of climate action.
The Greta Effect is credited with bringing people of all ages together to combat a global issue, and many consider it the catalyst that took activism online.
The number of carbon-reduction projects has grown exponentially around the world, spurred on by the philosophy that each person, each social media post, and each incremental reduction in carbon emissions is critical to keeping the planet habitable for future generations.
Greta Thunberg: Net Worth Summary
Greta Thunberg’s net worth may be something along the lines of upper-middle class, but that’s only because she stays true to her goal. She passes up opportunities for personal financial gain in favor of contributing to the organizations that are making a direct impact on climate change.
In the words of Time writers Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes, and Justin Woland:
She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation.
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