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'The Climate Doesn't Need Awards': Thunberg Rejects Prestigious Nordic Prize

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

Writer Ben Dolbear looks closer at Greta Thunberg's reasons for turning down the Nordic Council environmental award.

Photo by BBC and @gretathunberg

Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist, has turned down the Nordic Council's prestigious climate award which would have seen her bag nearly £50,000, saying instead, 'the climate doesn't need awards'.

The young activist, who recently celebrated her seventeenth birthday by returning to the Swedish Parliament where she started her 'Fridays for Future' protest which later turned into a global phenomenon, used the platform given to her by the awards ceremony to say that 'politicians and the people in power' need to listen to the younger generation and the current, best-available science, which is pointing towards an irreversible climate disaster unless direct and urgent action is taken by governments across the globe to overturn consumer and market reliance on unsustainable sources of energy.

Last year, Thunberg narrowly missed out on becoming the youngest ever Nobel Laureate for the Nobel Peace Prize, which instead went to Ethiopia's prime minister Abiy Ahmed. Despite this, her impassioned speeches and unwavering activism have led her to become a symbol of hope for many people deeply concerned about the state of our planet.

The President of the Nordic Council, which elected to award Thunberg the prize, gave respect for her decision, praising her movement as one which is 'good for everyone'.

Today, the concentration of carbon dioxide in our air is the highest that it has been for three million years and global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented pace. Last year also saw a turning point in the physical consequences of the pressure humanity is putting on the planet, with the US state of California and the country of Australia suffering from devastating, drought-induced wildfires.

However, senior political figures from US President Donald Trump to Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison continue to publicly question the responsibility of humanity in the climate emergency, an inaction on which Greta Thunberg has centred her criticism.

Posting on Instagram to explain her decision to turn down the award, Thunberg attacked her hosts for the poor Scandinavian record on climate. 'The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues', she said, but Nordic energy consumption tells 'a whole other story'.

Her comments were in reference to a WWF and the Global Footprint Network report which claims that Sweden and its closest neighbours is living as if the world has the resources of four other planets. Thunberg said that the gap between the gloomy scientific reality and what politicians are promising to do in response is 'gigantic'.

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