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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg led a students' climate strike in Brussels. (Photo: @choucachamia/Twitter)

Greta Thunberg Declines Nordic Environmental Award, Decrying Chasm Between Climate Science and Climate Action

"What we need," said the 16-year-old Swede, "is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science."

Jessica Corbett

Declining an environmental award from the Nordic Council on Tuesday, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg called on the region's countries to "lead the way" in worldwide efforts to meet the Paris accord's goals and avert climate catastrophe.

"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."
—Greta Thunberg, teen climate activist

The 16-year-old leader of the global #FridaysForFuture movement was nominated by her home country and Norway for the 2019 award from the council, a body for inter-parliamentary cooperation among Nordic nations.

Thunberg has accepted other awards—including Amnesty International's top human rights award and the first "Freedom Prize" from France's Normandy region —and was nominated for but did not ultimately receive this year's Nobel Peace Prize. She explained her decision regarding this latest honor in a statement posted to the video-sharing social media platform Instagram.

"I am currently traveling through California and therefore not able to be present with you today," said Thunberg, who sailed from the United Kingdom to New York City for a United Nations climate summit and related youth-led demonstrations last month and has since traveled throughout North America.

"I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honor," she continued. "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."

Thunberg, whose school strikes outside the Swedish Parliament last year sparked a global youth-led movement of protests to demand ambitious climate action, noted that "the Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues," but they continue to invest in fossil fuels.

"The gap between what the science says... and politics that run the Nordic countries is gigantic," she said. "And there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required."

Given that "the Paris Agreement, which all of the Nordic countries have signed, is based on the aspect of equity," Thunberg added, "richer countries must lead the way" in terms of phasing out dirty energy sources and dramatically reducing planet-heating emissions.

"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," she concluded, "I—and Fridays For Future in Sweden—choose not to accept the Nordic Council's environmental award nor the prize money of 500,000 Swedish kronor [$52,000 USD]."

Read Thunberg's full statement below:

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.

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 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"


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