Greta Thunberg is a climate and environmental activist who rose to fame after protesting outside the Swedish parliament at the age of fifteen. What happened to her? Where is she now in 2023?
Greta Thunberg’s Early Life
Greta Thunberg was born on January 3, 2003, in Stockholm, Sweden. She is the oldest child of actor Svante Thunberg and opera singer Malena Emman and has a younger sister named Beata.
According to an interview, she first learned about climate change at the age of eight and was baffled why nobody was taking action. The situation eventually made her depressed, which led her to stop eating and talking. As a result, she lost 22 pounds in two months.
She was subsequently diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, Asperger syndrome, and selective mutism. In one of her first public speeches, she talked about her selective mutism and stated that she “only talks when necessary.”
In the end, she struggled with depression for several years before becoming active in protesting. While her parents didn’t support her at the beginning, as her strike campaigns often led her to miss school, they eventually came to realize that she “wants to make a stand.” Her parents also announced her Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis publicly in Sweden in an effort of helping those with the same condition.
In terms of her Asperger’s, however, Greta does not see it as an illness despite it having limited her actions before. Rather, she likes to call it her “superpower” as it has helped her “tell the truth as she sees it.” Not only that but it has helped her find a purpose in life through the Fridays for Future climate movement.
For a couple of years, Greta challenged her family to lower their carbon footprint by giving up flying and upcycling. Not only that but she also challenged them to become vegan, in an effort of lowering their impact on the environment. She began by showing them data and graphs online, and when that didn’t sway their opinions (giving up flying would mean her mother would have to give up her international singing career), she told them she was “stealing her future.”
In the end, her parents agreed to her terms. According to a later interview with her father, they did it not to save the climate, but to “save their child” as the situation obviously meant so much to her. In response, Greta has said that their response gives her hope and that she now believes she can make a noticeable difference.
School Climate Strike at the Riksag In 2018
In August 2018, Greta became a national climate activist after participating in a number of school climate strikes. Not only that but she also made a number of public speeches in Sweden. In a later interview, she said she came up with the idea after hearing about the U.S. school shootings in February, and the March for Our Lives campaign that supported greater gun control.
That same year, she wrote an essay about climate change, which ended up winning a competition held by a national newspaper. Not long afterward, she was contacted by Bo Thoren, a representative from a climate change activist group, and invited to their meetings. She would later suggest in one of these meetings that children strike for climate change. She also tried to persuade other teens to get involved in the matter but received a lukewarm reception. As a result, she decided to go on strike by herself.
On August 20, 2018, Greta, who was just fifteen years old at the time, made the decision to skip school until the 2018 general election in Sweden. She subsequently went to protest during the country’s hottest summer in over 250 years. Sitting outside the Riksdag every day for three weeks, she demanded that the government lower its carbon emissions. She also donned a sign that read “school strike for climate”.
She later revealed that her teachers were divided in her skipping class to protest about climate change.
Speaking Out About Climate Change on Social Media
Greta posted a picture of herself from her first strike day onto social media and before she knew it, it went viral, thanks to other high-profile youth activists. A Nordea representative also quoted one of her tweets, which bumped her Twitter following to over 200,000. Her story also attracted the attention of local reporters, who wrote international stories about her efforts for over a week.
One Swedish social media company called We Don’t Have Time (WDHT), which focuses on climate change issues, also contributed to her fame. According to the founder Ingmar Rentzhog, it was after he posted a picture of her on his social media pages that her protest began attracting attention.
Rentzhog subsequently offered Greta a position as a youth advisor at WDHT. He also used her name and picture without her permission to raise millions of dollars, which sparked a controversy at the time. After learning that they were making money from her name, she stopped her unpair advisor role.
By the fall of 2018, Greta had started to take part in other protests around Europe. She also began mobilizing her social media followers and made a number of high-profile speeches. In December 2018 alone, she inspired over 20,000 students to participate in climate strikes.
What’s Greta Thunberg Doing Now in 2023 – Recent Updates
In February 2021, she announced via a tweet that she supported the Indian farmers’ protest. She also uploaded a campaigning toolkit for those who wanted to support the cause, though she soon deleted it stating that it was “outdated”. Shortly afterward, she was criticized by the Indian government, who stated that it was an internal matter.
In September 2021, she also criticized British prime minister Borish Johnson, US president Joe Biden, and other world leaders as they have failed to address the climate crisis. Not long afterward, she participated in a London protest demanding that companies should not be supported for using fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
That same year, she filed a petition to the U.N. along with other activists, asking them to declare a level three global climate emergency.
In the summer of 2022, she also condemned the European Parliament for describing fossil gas as “green energy.” Her explanation was that doing so will “deepen humanity’s dependency on Russian fuels”. She also criticized the European government for denying and delaying the necessary changes.
In January 2023, she also made a public speech in Lutzeratch, where she voiced her opinion about a coal mine in Germany. She was subsequently detained by the local police, along with other climate activists.
She also released a compilation titled, The Climate Book, which features a number of climate change-related essays, in February 2023. She later donated all the royalties she received from the book.