Winning an award is typically a time of celebration, but for 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg, it's a sober reminder of misplaced priorities and empty gestures. And this is why Greta Thunberg rejected a climate award bestowed to her by the Nordic Council, arguing it's not a time for prizes but for politicians to act. Because heck yes.
Thunberg is all about holding people in power accountable when it comes to climate change. That's why in August 2018 she staged a sit-in outside Swedish parliament with a handmade protest sign after a devastatingly hot summer in Northern Europe, according to NBC News. And it's why she took to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September to give a blistering speech on the issue, telling the audience, "Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We’re in the beginning of a mass destruction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?"
Given Thunberg's impressive principles and refusal to back down, I can't say I'm surprised she decided to turn down the Nordic Council’s environmental award worth over $50,000. And although the activist was as gracious as can be when declining the honor, she didn't hold back her true thoughts either.
"I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award," she penned on Instagram Tuesday. "It is a huge honor. 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."
Thunberg then talked about how Nordic countries, especially Sweden, aren't doing their part despite having many environmental accomplishments in comparison to other nations. "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," she explained.
After arguing the "richer countries must lead the way," she said, "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."
In case you're wondering, 500,000 Swedish kronor translates to about $52,000 in the United States.
In response to Thunberg's gesture, many supporters took to the post comments sections to praise her decision.
"Love you and support your decision," one person said. "Reward the movement with direct action."
Another commenter added: "Less talk, less awards and more action!! Staying true to the cause Thank you Greta!!!"
Someone else said: "Wow Greta, exactly what the world needed to hear we have heard enough “beautiful words,” no lack of those. Now, action - there is a total lack of that."
It's clear Thunberg's rejection of the prize is striking a chord with many, and I can completely see why. Because as the activist noted, politicians and people in power need to address climate change ASAP. And handing out awards shouldn't be apart of the action plan.