Youth Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks during the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. (AFP/Johannes Eisele)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday refused to accept an environmental award, saying the climate movement needed people in power to start to "listen" to "science" and not awards.
The young climate activist, who has rallied millions to her "Fridays for Future" movement, was honored at a Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council, a regional body for inter-parliamentary cooperation.
Thunberg had been nominated for her efforts by both Sweden and Norway and won the organisation's annual environment prize.
But after it was announced, a representative for her told the audience that she would not accept the award or the prize sum of 350,000 Danish kroner (about $52,000 or 46,800 euro), the TT news agency reported.
She addressed the decision in a post on Instagram from the United States.
"The climate movement does not need any more awards," she wrote.
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”
"What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science."
While thanking the Nordic Council for the "huge honor," she also criticized Nordic countries for not living up to their "great reputation" on climate 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... then it’s a whole other story," Thunberg said.
Still only 16 years old, Thunberg rose to prominence after she started spending her Fridays outside Sweden's parliament in August 2018, holding a sign reading "School strike for climate".