greta thunberg just turned down a £40,000 environmental award
The climate movement “does not need any more prizes”.
Photography Harley Weir
How do you solve a problem like the climate disaster? Is it by being on the ground, educating masses of people on the failings of the world’s ignorant elite? Or is it by standing on stage at a glamorous event, brandishing a statue and a cheque? Greta Thunberg knows it definitely doesn’t involve the latter.
So when it was revealed that the 16-year-old had won the Nordic Council’s Environmental Prize for 2019, which included a cash prize of 350,000 Danish kroner (that’s roughly £40,000), she knew what she had to do: politely decline it.
Greta is currently in California, having travelled to America by boat on her way to the COP25 summit in Chile this December. Instead, two climate activists attended the ceremony to make a statement on her behalf. Greta stated, via Sofia and Isabella Axelsson, that the movement “does not need any more prizes”, and that “what we need is for our rulers and politicians to listen to the research”. Yep, she has little time for professional peacocking in lieu of actual activism.
It’s not the first time she’s turned down awards. Just a few months ago, she chose to decline the Children’s Climate Prize, as the ceremony in Stockholm (held by a Swedish energy firm) required a number of winners to take flights into the city -- slightly hypocritical, considering the current climate.
Still, that doesn’t mean that every prize is off the table; she just knows what matters and what doesn’t. Weeks after her rousing speech at the UN, she accepted the 2019 Right Livelihood Award -- widely considered the “alternative Nobel Peace Prize”, looking to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.” Of course, those prizes don’t solely belong to her. As she said in her acceptance speech for the Right Livelihood 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.”