Greta Thunberg: a timeline of her climate activism

Allegra Goodwin
·7-min read
<p>Three years since her first protest, the Swedish schoolgirl is now known worldwide</p> (PA)

Three years since her first protest, the Swedish schoolgirl is now known worldwide

(PA)

Greta Thunberg has spent the last three years drawing attention to the ecological crisis through her climate strike movement.

Airing on Monday night at 9pm on BBC1, ‘Greta Thunberg: A Year To Change The World,’ follows the extraordinary schoolgirl on her fight to force people to unite behind the science, as she travels to witness eco-catastrophe around the globe.

Ahead of tonight’s programme, here’s a timeline of Ms Thunberg’s activism until now.

20 August 2018

15-year-old Ms Thunberg skips school to protest outside the Swedish parliament for more action against climate change.

She holds a wooden sign reading “skolstrejk för klimatet” (which translates to “school strike for climate”), and homemade flyers with some facts about the climate crisis.

Ms Thunberg is inspired by teen activists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who refused to return to the classroom after a school shooting, in a campaign for greater gun control.

She posts about her protest on social media.

26 August 2018

Ms Thunberg is joined by classmates, parents and teachers at another school strike and her climate campaign gathers media attention.

September 2018

Thunberg begins to ‘strike’ from school every Friday and invites students around the world to join her ‘Fridays for Future’ campaign by staging walkouts at their own schools.

November 2018

Ms Thunberg’s campaign has gained traction in the media and more than 17,000 students in 24 countries are now taking part in the Friday school strikes.

Thunberg is invited to speak at preeminent events in Europe, including UN climate talks in Poland.

14 March 2019

Ms Thunberg is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård says: “We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees.

“Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”

On Twitter, Ms Thunberg writes: “[I am] honoured and very grateful for this nomination.

“Tomorrow we #schoolstrike for our future. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.”

15 March 2019

One million people join 2,200 strikes in 125 countries. It is the largest global Fridays for Future strike so far.

16 May 2019

Ms Thunberg appears on the cover of Time Magazine after she is named one of the world’s most influential people.

“Now I am speaking to the whole world,” she writes on Twitter.

31 May 2019

At a Fridays for Future event in Vienna, Ms Thunberg announces she will take a sabbatical year from school to attend the upcoming climate conferences in America.

23 July 2019

In a speech at the French parliament, Ms Thunberg bites back at Conservative and far-right MPs who branded her a “guru of the apocalypse.”

She urges them to “unite behind the science.”

1 August 2019

Thunberg hits back at Australian News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt for writing a column that mocked her autism diagnosis.

She calls out the “hate and conspiracy campaigns” run by climate deniers like Mr Bolt, turning his suggestion she is “deeply disturbed” back onto him.

14 August 2019

Ms Thunberg, who refuses to fly, sails from Britain to the United States in a zero-emissions boat to attend the UN climate summit.

The number of climate strikers is now 3.6 million people and growing.

23 September 2019

Ms Thunberg delivers an impassioned speech to world leaders at the UN summit.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she says, visibly angry.

“How dare you?”

25 September 2019

Ms Thunberg is named one of four winners of the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, Sweden’s answer to the Nobel Prize.

4 October 2019

Branding the New York climate talks “a failure”, Ms Thunberg encourages supporters to keep pushing on at a climate strike in Iowa.

11 October 2019

Despite being the favourite to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Ms Thunberg misses out and the award goes to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

13 November 2019

Due to serious public unrest in Chile, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago is moved to Madrid, Spain at the last minute, and Ms Thunberg posts on social media that she needs a ride back across the Atlantic Ocean.

Australian couple Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu, who had been sailing around the world aboard their 40-foot catamaran, offer to take her, assisted by professional skipper Nikki Henderson.

Thunberg sets sail from Hampton, Virginia to Lisbon, Portugal; her departing message to Americans is: “The same as to everyone – that is to unite behind the science and to act on the science.”

11 December 2019

In a speech at COP25, Ms Thunberg accuses world leaders of “clever accounting and creative PR” to mask a lack of action on climate change.

On the same day, 16-year-old Ms Thunberg becomes Time Magazine’s youngest ever person of the year.

13 March 2020

As governments around the globe place limits on mass gatherings to stop the spread of coronavirus, Thunberg encourages students to make week 82 of the school strike digital, starting the hashtag #ClimateStrikeOnline.

22 April 2020

On the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Ms Thunberg says the strength of the global response to coronavirus demonstrates how quickly the world can change when humanity comes together and acts on the advice of scientists.

She warns that the same rapid reaction is needed to slow climate change.

30 April 2020

Ms Thunberg donates a $100,000 (£73,000) award she received from Danish anti-poverty charity Human Act to UNICEF to buy soap, masks and gloves to protect children from coronavirus.

“Like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child rights crisis,” says Ms Thunberg.

5 June 2020

Ms Thunberg brands Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a failure over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen a record surge of deaths, as an alliance of environmental groups sue his administration for endangering the climate and Amazon rainforest.

Ms Thunberg is speaking on a video call crowdfunding campaign for medical supplies and telemedicine services for people in the Amazon rainforest, where communities have been devastated by the pandemic due to a dearth of health services.

14 July 2020

Ms Thunberg joins other activists in calling for a repeal of the Philippines new Terror Law which she says puts environment and climate activists in the country at risk.

20 August 2020

On the second anniversary of Ms Thunberg’s first school strike for the climate, Ms Thunberg and fellow climate activists meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

They subsequently announce plans for another global climate strike on September 25 2020.

24 August 2020

Ms Thunberg’s sabbatical year ends and she returns to the classroom.

She says: “My gap year from school is over, and it feels so great to finally be back in school again!”

14 December 2020

Ms Thunberg accuses the New Zealand Labour government’s climate change emergency declaration as “virtue signalling.”

She tweets that New Zealand’s Labour government have only committed to reducing less than one percent of New Zealand’s carbon emissions by 2025.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and climate change commissioner James Shaw defend New Zealand’s climate change declaration as being only the start of the country’s climate change mitigation targets.

29 December 2020

During a BBC interview, Ms Thunberg says climate change activists are not being listened to despite the coronavirus pandemic having “shone a light” on how “we cannot make it without science.”

2 January 2021

In an interview with The Sunday Times to mark her 18th birthday, Ms Thunberg says she has stopped buying new clothes, but will not criticise those who choose to fly or have children.

She says “I’m not telling anyone else what to do, but there is a risk when you are vocal about these things and don’t practise as you preach, then you will become criticised for that and what you are saying won’t be taken seriously.”

9 April 2021

Ms Thunberg claims she will not attend the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow (COP26), citing concerns about vaccine inequality.

She says she will not attend the meeting “unless everyone can take part on the same terms.”

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