The Swedish Greta Thunberg, who in September 2018 started a protest to demand actions against the climate change, turns 18 this Sunday, maintaining its role as a benchmark in a global movement that has inspired millions of young people.
With a speech that appeals to science without avoiding the emotional component, the adolescent with a serious gesture has become one of the greatest global phenomena of recent times, supported by a legion of admirers and adored by the media.
Time magazine character of the year and twice nominated for the Nobel Peace PrizeThunberg has met with the Pope and top world leaders and has given speeches at the UN and at major climate summits.
His continuous presence in the media has generated enmity and he has starred in public disagreements with important political figures such as the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
And although the coronavirus pandemic has somewhat dimmed its brightness, Thunberg, with 4.4 million followers on Twitter and more than double on Instagram, retains its role as an icon that has resulted in the appearance of some “Greta” in any country of the world.
The original Greta sat for the first time on August 20, 2018, three weeks before her country’s legislative elections, in front of the Swedish Parliament to start a daily strike until the Government fulfilled the commitment to cut emissions of the Agreement of Paris against climate change.
The strike, which later took place only on Fridays, received great media attention, first in Sweden, then in other countries, and in a few months, the young woman had been a guest star at the UN Climate Summit in Poland, the Forum Davos, Brussels and the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Thunberg, which for climatic reasons He only travels by train and bus and never by plane, He led youth demonstrations across Europe and became the face of the “FridaysForFuture” (Friday for the Future) movement and school strikes around the world.
The Swedish teenager took a sabbatical year, later altered by the pandemic, to travel around the American continent, arriving on a sailboat powered by solar panels and underwater turbines and owned by Pierre Casiraghi, son of Carolina de Monaco.
“They have stolen my dreams, my childhood with their empty words,” he said in September last year at the UN in a famous speech in which he reproached leaders for daring to “look the other way” while scientific evidence warns of a troubling scenario.
Those words gave rise to an ironic comment by Trump, who later had several controversies on social networks with Thunberg, as did the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who called her “brat“.
Social protests in Chile led to the suspension of the UN climate summit and its transfer to Madrid, where it arrived after rushing across the Atlantic on a catamaran run by Australian youtuber and followed by a media caravan from Lisbon to the capital Spanish.
The one renamed the “GretaCOP”, in a play on words with the acronym in English of the summit, was one of the high points of Thunberg, about whom the British BBC has announced a series and the subject of a documentary that was premiered at the Venice Festival.
As she herself assures in “Scener ur hjärtat” (Scenes from the heart), written jointly with her parents and younger sister as a therapy, It was at the age of eleven that he became interested in the effects of climate change, which caused a personal crisis that spread to the whole family.
It was then that she and her sister Beata were diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that she highlights on her Twitter profile, and other minor disorders.
“Suffering from this disease makes me see the world differently, or black or white, and the climate issue is one of them,” said Thunberg in an interview, who until then had spent a childhood full of travel due to work commitments in his mother, the mezzo-soprano Malena Ernman, who represented Sweden at Eurovision.
Ernman, the actor Svante Thunberg (his partner and Greta’s partner on his travels) and the girls overcame the crisis with a collective commitment: they stopped traveling by plane and adopted a vegan diet, in addition to limiting consumption, they say.
Ernman became an active polemicist in Swedish media and social media, and Greta followed suit by writing to the conservative Svenska Dagbladet three months before starting her strike.
The fact that the book on the family crisis was published a couple of days after Greta began the mobilizations raised suspicions, although the family separated the two facts and assured that the proceeds from the sale went to a charity.
His continuous media presence and his elaborate speech have also generated suspicions and complaints of a possible manipulation of a young woman who his critics consider should be in the institute, to which he has returned in recent months to resume his studies, although without abandoning his environmental activism .
Thunberg, who was involved in a controversy over the use of his name by a Swedish climate foundation to attract investors, has decided to shield this and “FridaysForFuture” as trademarks within the European Union.
“This is too much for me, too much responsibility,” he says through tears on the boat trip to New York, according to his can see in the documentary that bears his name, in one of the few moments in which the young Swede has shown in public feelings.