The 16-year-old climate activist made a daring move, denying the award as well as the $50,000 prize money it comes along with.
Climate activist 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has gained immense popularity ever since she began her journey to fight anti-environment policies. Through her activism, she was able to rally together individuals - especially young teenagers - across the world to participate in her "Fridays for Future" movement, which called on citizens from various countries to strike for proactive climate policies. Recently, she was nominated for the Nordic Council's prestigious annual environment prize. However, in a rather surprising move, she has refused to accept the award. She claimed that the environment required people to act and lawmakers to listen to scientists rather than hand out awards, The Guardian reports.
The Nordic Council is a regional body established in order to maintain inter-parliamentary cooperation between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. This year, both Sweden, Thunberg's home country, as well as Norway voted for the young climate activist. In addition to the prestige of winning the award, the recipient would be given an estimated 350,000 Danish kroner, which comes up to about $52,000. However, flouting tradition, Thunberg fiercely denied the prize and made a public statement about her decision to do so.
Taking to social media platform Instagram, she affirmed, "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 honor. 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."
The activist then went on to describe Sweden's shoddy commitment to environmental policy. "In Sweden, we live as if we had about four planets according to the WWF and Global Footprint Network. And roughly the same goes for the entire Nordic region," she wrote. "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 tonnes."
Finally, she firmly concluded, "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." The climate activist was resolute in her tone and words and is perhaps one of the few change-makers who has refused such a prestigious prize, only reaffirming her commitment to real, meaningful impact - not superficial awards and accolades. Hopefully, this strong decision will send a message to the Nordic Council and other similar organizations to encourage measurable change rather than to simply institute more awards.