Greta Thunberg wins ‘Alternative Nobel’ prize

Climate activist ‘personifies the notion that everyone has the power to create change’

Greta Thunberg  participates in a School Strike for Climate reform near the White House in Washington DC this month. Photograph: EPA

Greta Thunberg participates in a School Strike for Climate reform near the White House in Washington DC this month. Photograph: EPA

 

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is among four people named as the winners of a Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel.

Greta is recognised “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts”, the prize foundation said.

It added that the 16-year-old, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, “personifies the notion that everyone has the power to create change. Her example has inspired and empowered people from all walks of life to demand political action”.

Created in 1980, the annual Right Livelihood Award honours efforts that the prize founder, Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, felt were being ignored by the Nobel prizes.

The four winners will each receive a million kronor (€93,000).

The foundation also gave its 2019 award to Davi Kopenawa and the Hutukara Yanomami Association, representing Brazil’s indigenous tribe, for protecting the Amazon forest and its people; Moroccan activist Aminatou Haidar “for her steadfast non-violent action” for western Sahara; and Chinese lawyer Guo Jianmei for her work for women’s rights in China.

Ole von Uexkull, the foundation’s executive director and nephew of the founder, said “we honour four practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a liveable future for all on planet Earth”.

An award ceremony is planned in Stockholm on December 4th, six days before the Nobel prizes.

Greta said in a statement issued by the Right Livelihood foundation: “Whenever I receive an award, it is not me who is the winner. I am part of a global movement of school children, youth and adults of all ages who have decided to act in defence of our living planet.”

It “is a huge recognition for Fridays For Future and the climate strike movement”, she added.

Greta launched her campaign on August 20th last year when she held solitary demonstrations outside Sweden’s parliament, skipping classes once a week to protest over climate change. Her solo action has inspired millions across the world to stage protests urging leaders to tackle global warming.

The Swedish award committee said she “tirelessly conveys her message: acknowledge the facts, realise the urgency of the climate crisis and act accordingly. She speaks at high-level conferences, meets world leaders, and gives guidance to a growing global movement”.

Greta, who was called “a powerful voice of a young generation that will have to bear the consequences of today’s political failure to stop climate change”, is currently in New York where she attended a UN climate conference.

On Monday, she scolded the audience at the UN Climate Action Summit, repeatedly saying “How dare you”. She said: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and yet all you can talk about is money. You are failing us.”

The jury considered 142 nominations from 59 countries. – PA