Greta Thunberg started a global climate movement in just 18 months, staged the largest climate demonstration in history and continues to spend her Friday on strike.
Thunberg launched the "Fridays For Future" movement in 2018, encouraging students to skip school to demand action on climate change from their governments. That November, in ninth grade, she staged a two-week strike outside the Swedish parliament, demanding that her government cut emissions by 15% a year. She still spends every Friday on strike.
Greta Thunberg's leadership helped accomplish a mass march in January 2019 where tens of thousands of Belgian teens marched weekly on the EU headquarters in Brussels. The student demonstrations continued to Antwerp, Paris and Hamburg. In September, 4 million people joined her in that strike across 161 countries — the largest climate demonstration in history. Following that day of action, Thunberg gave an impassioned, tearful speech to world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit which Greta traveled by boat to attend (highlighting a growing “flight shaming” movement).
Young people are leading the way on climate action, and the World is taking note. Shortly after Greta's UN meet another critical protest movement in 2019 came from more than 8,700 Amazon employees who signed an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos demanding the company develop an aggressive climate action plan. Microsoft employees staged a walk-out in September 2019 to protest the company’s “complicity in the climate crisis.”
Greta's mass action efforts fueled change like we've never seen before in the history of climate change - Amazon pledged in 2019 that the company will be carbon neutral by 2040 and will buy 100,000 EVs. Ikea added another €200 million to its investments in being carbon neutral by 2030. German cement company Heidelberg pledged to create carbon neutral concrete by 2050. Kellogg Company will improve the lives of 3 billion people through a variety of efforts around food and nutrition and provide donations to feed 375 million people.
In 2019 alone, 200 CEOs of giant multinationals who are part of the Business Roundtable declared an end to a decades-long obsession with shareholder returns. In Accenture’s annual and extensive survey of global CEOs, for example, the mood shift was clear. As the CEO of Pernod Ricard said, “I need to recognize where consumers want us in ten years…businesses that are only targeting profits will die.”
On December 11, Thunberg addressed climate scientists in Madrid. "I am telling you there is hope. I have seen it. But it does not come from governments or corporations. It comes from the people," she said. Thunberg added: "We do not have to wait. We can start the change right now. We the people."
Greta Thunberg continues to inspire hope and fearlessness in the hearts and minds of people all around the world that change is possible if we stand in solidarity.