Greta Thunberg Turned Down A Prestigious Award In An Iconic Way


What was life like for you at 16? For me, I was learning how to drive and procrastinating on homework, but for climate activist Greta Thunberg, she's making waves across the world. On Wednesday, Oct. 30, she did it again. NBC News reported that Greta Thunberg turned down a Nordic Council award, and her reason is huge.

According to NBC News, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg turned down a Nordic Council prize, one of the biggest environmental honors given in Nordic countries including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and her home country, Sweden. Thunberg, who is currently living in California, wasn't able to attend the ceremony, leaving two fellow climate activists, Sofia and Isabella Axelsson, to take the podium in Thunberg's honor and deliver her message. The activist said in a letter, "The climate movement does not need any more prizes," per The Hill. The activists quoted Thunberg by stating, "What we need is for our rulers and politicians to listen to the research." In a statement sent to Elite Daily, President of the Nordic Council Hans Wallmark said, "The movement that Greta is spearheading is influencing and inspiring an entire generation. This is worthy of respect. There is good cause for everyone, also outside of Nordic co-operation, to listen to her and the other voices that are demanding action."

An environmental award from the Nordic Council is just one of the prizes the parliament hands out. Other awards are given for literature, youth literature, film, and music. Each prize is worth 350,000 Danish kroner, which exchanges to $52,000 U.S. dollars, according to NBC News. Wallmark said in his statement that "the Nordic Council will now think carefully about what to do with the prize money of DKK 350,000."


Despite her world-renowned status as a climate activist across the world, this isn't the first time Thunberg has turned down praise. While appearing at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City on Sept. 23, Thunberg was met with applause from the audience, but she quickly shut down the warm welcome with a strong statement. During the summit, Thunberg accused politicians of "failing" the youth of the world, and cited increasing greenhouse gasses as proof. She said,

You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us. Young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you.

Thunberg continued by telling the crowd that her childhood has been "stolen" and accused politicians of delivering "empty words" in response to the shortening time span to combat climate change and its effects. She said,

This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.

In case you're not familiar with Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist from Sweden gained recognition by staging weekly sit-ins outside Swedish Parliament in order to call attention to the global climate issue. She also helped organize the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, one of the largest coordinated climate strikes in history. The event had participation from 150 countries, where activists, students, adults, and other concerned citizens marched in solidarity to demand Congress act to fight climate change.