It arrives alone, carrying a wooden sign. A fine rain falls on his yellow raincoat of several sizes more than he should and that hides his petite figure. Cross the arches of the majestic building of the Riksdag, the Swedish Parliament, and continue walking in a straight line, ignoring the bustle of the street. It's almost eight o'clock on Friday morning and there are people waiting in Mynttorget Square. She barely exchanges a few words and places her poster next to a planter: Skolstrejk for Klimatet, school strike because of the weather. In this place in the center of Stockholm everything began in August. Was when Greta Thunberg, until then known for being the daughter of a famous Swedish opera singer, started the protest that in a few months would become the symbol of the youth movement to fight against climate change that promises to fill the squares in the March 15 world strike .
"I have only just arrived at the right time, and more and more people are aware of the emergency situation we are living, of the fact that we are going through an existential crisis that has never been treated as such," he says. It is week 29 of the "Friday for the future" or #FridaysForFuture, the English label with which the protest has spread like wildfire, first on social networks and then on the streets of dozens of cities around the world. Friday was the day that Greta chose to continue with a strike that initially lasted three weeks in a row: the goal was to force her country to comply with the Paris Agreement on climate. Neither she nor her family imagined the impact it would have. "It started on August 20. We thought that Greta would be here for a while, that she would go home for lunch, but no, and she did the same thing the day after and the next," says Svante Thunberg, Greta's father, who during the more than seven hours of his daughter's strike, discreetly, approaches the square.
When the protest started to come out in the media, an invitation for the TEDTalk arrived, then another for the United Nations climate summit of Katowice (Poland), where Greta dazzled with a speech of blunt phrases and without half measures, the same tone that she used in January in Davos or a few weeks ago in Brussels. Phrases like this, which is released when asked how it feels when someone says that they are just children protesting: "I agree, we are just children who protest, we should not be doing this, we should not have to do it, feel that our future is threatened to the point of having to miss class to fight for this, it is a failure of previous generations who have done nothing. "
- Why do you think your protest is having this impact?
The president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, this week sent an invitation to Greta Thunberg to speak at the congress of deputies next Tuesday, before the global school strike of March 15. The invitation was signed by the Secretary of State for International Affairs, José Manuel Albares. But Greta will not be on March 12 in Congress. From her family they explain that the trip is very long, since she only travels by train, and it would not be possible to organize it at short notice, and taking into account that she has to go to the institute.
- I have a very direct message and I am a girl who says that other people are stealing my future and that of others. Many people feel guilty.
Greta is, in fact, a 16-year-old girl in a girl's body. She looks less years than she has the aftermath of a strong depression that led her to stop eating for two months and lose 10 kilos: "When I was 11 years old, I started to be very depressed: I stopped eating, I stopped talking, I stopped I had to do a lot with climate change: I was very worried, I did not know what to do ... " His father explains that it all started after seeing some videos on the subject at school. What for Greta was so shocking, for the rest of her class was something that disappeared from her worries as soon as she left for recess. "When she says that her depression had to do with the weather, you have to understand that she had a strong feeling of being left alone and alone," she adds.
Loneliness and incomprehension also derived from one of the first biographical facts that are known about Greta. She reveals it in the profile of her social networks: she has Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that affects social interaction. "I do not talk to people anymore than I have to do ... It's not that hard, I can manage it, but it's still overwhelming, all these people around," she admits after having been received by thousands of students in Brussels, Paris or Hamburg.
In the square of Mynttorget people keep coming. Small groups are rotating and in total, at the end of the day, will have passed about 200 people. "A lot of people do not come," says David Fopp, a university professor, "we are a non-conflictive society and many think that there has been enough done here against climate change". In spite of that, the Swedish tabloids Aftonbladet Y Expressen They have named Greta "woman of the year". "When you deal with climate change," she says, "you see that women are more active." According to many studies, men on average produce more emissions than women, they will be the most affected.This struggle has a lot to do with feminism " .
"My life has changed"
Among its supporters in the square there is everything, each with its hashtag: grandparents for the future, writers for the future and even investors for the future ... At the time of leaving school come groups of children with posters of a thousand colors. Greta barely interacts, but from time to time she looks at them and sketches a mischievous smile, which, along with her two long braids and green eyes, makes her look like Pippi Longstocking, the impertinent child of the books of the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren.
"Before all this I was very shy and I still am in private, I was always the person behind me, the one nobody noticed," says Greta. The protest has been like a therapy. "My life has changed a lot, I feel more energetic, happier, I can have something that makes sense, something to do, I do not have a lot of free time but it's okay".
The change has been radical for his entire family. Greta is vegan and tries to make her parents. Svante Thunberg almost succeeds; the mother, Malena Ernman, continues to eat cheese. For her, the biggest renunciation was to stop taking airplanes as her daughter asked her to reduce the environmental impact of her actions. "He has had to change his career, he keeps singing but now he does it in musicals here in Stockholm", explains Greta. When he talks about the achievements of his family, his face lights up. The same thing happens when you imagine what may happen next Friday with the global student strike: "I get excited thinking about the day after, when I will look on the Internet and see the photos that come from around the world." She manages her social networks and answers messages. Not all arrive via the Internet. While the photographer prepares the camera to make a portrait, a woman comes over and hands him a letter: she is sent by a young French woman.
2This is like in the stories: a child, the youngest of all, pushes others to fight against the dragon, "says Gerd Johnsson, a 66-year-old activist, after giving two bouquets of red tulips to her heroine. He distributes among the young people who remain until the end of the strike At three o'clock, he picks up his sign and walks, silently, with his father to the side, he heads down the same street he had arrived for hours earlier.
"Many people have used my name for commercial or non-commercial purposes and I can not stop it If someone asks me and it's something they do for profit, I say no, but I can not stop all the people, I do not have much time. . " Greta Thunberg is aware of the risk of becoming a brand. His face appears in calls for demonstrations, shirts ... He can not prevent this from happening but, seeing that his fame increased, he decided not to join any organization. Even so, she has had to take a step forward to counteract, with long postings on Facebook, the rumors and suspicions of having someone behind, and to explain that she travels alone with the permission of her institute and her parents, who have paid for all trips, from Katowice to Davos or Brussels. "Many people have offered to pay, when he went to Davos the organization wanted to pay for the trip and the same when he went to Brussels, and maybe we can think about it when they are official occasions, but at the moment we have paid for all of us," says the father.
The risk of being used as a brand became a reality when a Swedish businessman active in the movement against climate change used his name for brochures intended for investors of a new start-up, recognizing afterwards that he had not informed Greta or his family. She has also responded to anyone who suspected that her protest was the campaign to launch the book that her parents wrote to tell about the experience of the past two years. The publication had to leave in May but after problems with the first publisher, they finally found another one that wanted to take it out on August 24, two weeks before the general elections in Sweden. "I expected there to be hatred, that if they do not find something, they invent it, and it's sad," laments the young activist.