Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who began a global movement by skipping school and demanding action on climate change, angrily thundering “How Dare You” at the world’s most powerful leaders during the UN Climate Summit for their inaction, was on Wednesday (December 11) declared as Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year.
For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is Time’s 2019 Person of the Year,” the US publication said.
At 16, Thunberg is the youngest individual ever to be named Time’s Person of the Year.
The publication said the annual honour is historically accorded to people who worked their way up the ladders of major organisations and were at home in the corridors of power. But in this moment when so many traditional institutions seem to be failing us, amid staggering inequality and social upheaval and political paralysis, we are seeing new kinds of influence take hold.
It is wielded by people like Thunberg, leaders with a cause and a phone who dont fit the old rubrics but who connect with us in ways that institutions cant and perhaps never could.
Time named the US Women’s Soccer Team as the Athlete of the Year, the US Public Servants as Guardians of the Year, singer Lizzo as Entertainer of the Year and Disney CEO Bob Iger as Business Person of the Year.
Time said that in the course of little more than a year, Thunberg from Stockholm went from a solitary protest for climate action on the cobblestones outside her country’s Parliament to leading a worldwide youth movement; from a schoolkid conjugating verbs in French class to meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and receiving audiences with Presidents and the Pope; from a solo demonstrator with a hand-painted slogan (Skolstrejk for Klimatet) to inspiring millions of people across more than 150 countries to take to the streets on behalf of the planet we share.
Thunberg had courageously looked the world leaders in the eyes and yelled How dare you as she sat next to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during the Climate Summit at the world organisation in September this year, scolding them for their inaction and empty words on climate change.
“You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? she said. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”
Time said meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earths existential crisis found one in Thunberg.
Marshaling Friday’s for Future protests throughout Europe; thundering, How dare you! at the worlds most powerful leaders in her viral UN speech; leading some 7 million climate strikers across the world in September and tens of thousands more in Madrid in early December, Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planetand the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington,” the magazine said.