Greta began protesting outside the Swedish parliament building in August 2018, vowing to continue until the government met the carbon emissions target set out in the Paris Accord of 2015.
Just a solitary figure on her picket line at first, after a picture of Greta’s protest, went viral on social media, other children joined her school strike.
Her action has inspired similar Friday school strikes by children around the world, under the hastags #FridaysForFuture and #ClimateStrike. By 20th September 2019, she was leading a worldwide climate strike by more than four million people across 161 countries.
Through her activism, Greta has inspired a worldwide movement. When she spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019, just six months after beginning her school strike, Greta’s speech gained global attention.
“Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced,” Greta said. “The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases… there are no grey areas when it comes to survival. Now we all have a choice: we can create transformational action that will safeguard the future living conditions for humankind or we can continue with our ‘business as usual’ and fail – that is up to you and me.”
This powerful and empowering idea that we must all take responsibility for the future of the planet and of humankind has resonated around the world – inspiring collective action and protest.
Greta embodies the message she is delivering; she eschews air travel and convinced her family to go vegan before she began her school strikes.
When she travelled to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, she did so by solar-powered sailing ship. This unwillingness to compromise on her principles gives Greta an authenticity which makes for powerful leadership.
Her powerful message of hope and urgency is also one of personal empowerment through which she inspires action.
During her trip to the USA, Greta met with former USA President, Barack Obama. She said, “My message to young people who want to have an impact on the world is to be creative. There’s so incredibly much you can do. Do not underestimate yourself.”