Greta Thunberg turns down environmental award and $51,000 in prize money

National News

Greta Thunberg has decided to decline the Nordic Council’s environmental award and more than $51,000 in prize money. The Swedish teen climate change activist rejected the recognition in an Instagram post on Tuesday because “the climate movement does not need any more awards.”

Thunberg thanked the Nordic Council for the award, but she said she cannot accept it. “What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science,” she wrote in the post. 

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I have received the Nordic Council’s environmental award 2019. I have decided to decline this prize. Here’s why: “I am currently traveling through California and therefore not able to be present with you today. I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour. But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science. The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words. But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita – if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping – then it’s a whole other story. In Sweden we live as if we had about 4 planets according to WWF and Global Footprint Network. And roughly the same goes for the entire Nordic region. In Norway for instance, the government recently gave a record number of permits to look for new oil and gas. The newly opened oil and natural gas-field, ”Johan Sverdrup” is expected to produce oil and natural gas for 50 years; oil and gas that would generate global CO2 emissions of 1,3 tonnes. The gap between what the science says is needed to limit the increase of global temperature rise to below 1,5 or even 2 degrees – and politics that run the Nordic countries is gigantic. And there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required. The Paris Agreement, which all of the Nordic countries have signed, is based on the aspect of equity, which means that richer countries must lead the way. We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing. So until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1,5 degrees or even 2 degrees celsius, I – and Fridays For Future in Sweden – choose not to accept the Nordic Councils environmental award nor the prize money of 500 000 Swedish kronor. Best wishes Greta Thunberg”

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on

“The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues,” she added. “But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita — if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping — then it’s a whole other story.”

She criticized the entire Nordic region for not acting in accordance with the Paris Agreement, which all of those countries signed. “We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most,” she said. “And yet our countries still basically do nothing.”

“So until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1,5 degrees or even 2 degrees celsius, I — and Fridays For Future in Sweden — choose not to accept the Nordic Councils environmental award nor the prize money of 500 000 Swedish kronor,” she said. 

Hans Wallmark, the President of the Nordic Council, said in a statement that the council respects Thunberg’s decision. “The movement that Greta is spearheading is influencing and inspiring an entire generation. There is good cause for everyone, also outside of Nordic co-operation, to listen to her and the other voices that are demanding action.”

Wallmark said the Nordic Council will now carefully consider where to donate the money. The awards ceremony was on Tuesday.

Thunberg is currently traveling through California weeks after giving a blistering speech aimed at politicians worldwide at the United Nations. Thunberg was in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize because of her leadership, but she ultimately did not win the award. She and three others did win the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, which is known as the “alternative Nobel Prize.”

She became known worldwide for her weekly climate strikes, which she started on her own in 2018. Since then, the teenager has inspired millions of people to spend their Fridays urging their governments to take action against climate change. 

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