As the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, gets underway activist Greta Thunberg called out world leaders for their empty words when it comes to helping the environment, calling it “blah blah blah”.
Thunberg quickly became a household name after her environmental protests sparked a worldwide movement - however, despite her position as one of the most notable climate activists in the world, she has not been invited to speak at COP26.
This is what you need to know about the young climate activist.
How old is she and where is she from?
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, on 3 January 2003, Thunberg is currently 18 years old.
She first found herself in the spotlight when she was just 15 years old after protesting outside the Swedish parliament in 2018.
In her protest, she held a sign which said “School Strike for Climate”, and called for the Swedish government to meet carbon emissions targets. Her initial campaign of one became a global protest, with thousands across the world organising their own strikes.
By December that same year, more than 20,000 students from across the world had joined in her protest.
Also in 2018, Thunberg discussed her autism and OCD diagnosis in her TEDx talk.
She said: “I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism.
“That basically means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”
Who are her parents?
Her mother is Malena Ernman, a Swedish Opera singer, who represented Sweden in the 2009 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.
She shares a love of the environment with her daughter, and in 2017 was named as Sweden’s Environmental Hero of the Year by the World Wildlife Fund, alongside biologist Rebecka le Moine.
Her father is Svante Thunberg, an actor, author and also Ernman’s manager.
Speaking to the BBC, her father said that the teenager struggled with depression for “three or four years” before channelling her energies into protesting.
He said: “She stopped talking.... she stopped going to school.”
He explained that his daughter “changed” and became “very happy” after getting involved in activism.
He said: “You think she’s not ordinary now because she’s special, and she’s very famous, and all these things. But to me she’s now an ordinary child - she can do all the things like other people can.
“She dances around, she laughs a lot, we have a lot of fun - and she’s in a very good place.”
Thunberg also has a younger sister, Beata Ernman, who was born in 2005.
How does she travel?
When is comes to travel, Thunberg does not fly due to the impact of air travel on the environment.
In 2019, she set sail across the Atlantic Ocean twice to attend climate conferences in New York before they were moved to Santiago, in Chile. The trip was announced as carbon neutral.
At the time, she said: “I decided to sail to highlight the fact that you can’t live sustainably in today’s society.
“You have to go to the extreme.”
For the COP26 conference, Thunberg travelled to Glasgow by train, and quickly found herself surrounded by around 100 people at the station upon her arrival.
She took the train to Glasgow from London, where she had been taking part in a protest against the financing of fossil fuel industries.
What has she said about the COP26 conference?
Speaking to young protesters in Festival Park in Govan, across the River Clyde from the COP26 venue, Thunberg criticised the “blah blah blah” of world leaders.
She said: “Change is not going to come from inside there - this is not leadership, this is leadership.
“We say no more blah blah blah, no more exploitation of people and nature and the planet. No more exploitation.
“No more blah blah blah. No more what the f**k they are doing inside there.”
In September, Thunberg mocked Prime Minister Boris Johnson by quoting parts of his speeches on climate change and adding “blah, blah, blah”.
Johnson referenced the young campaigner’s remarks during his speech to the COP26 opening session.
He said: “I was there in Paris six years ago when we agreed to net zero and to try to restrain the rise in the temperature of the planet to 1.5c, and all those promises will be nothing but blah blah blah – to coin a phrase – and the anger and impatience of the world will be uncontainable unless we make this Cop26 in Glasgow the moment when we get real about climate change.”
Speaking to a large crowd in festival park on the first day of the COP26 leader’s summit, Thunberg said: “This COP26 is so far just like the previous COPs and that has led us nowhere. They have led us nowhere.”
She added: “Inside COP they are just politicians and people in power pretending to take our future seriously. Pretending to take the present seriously of the people who are being affected already today by the climate crisis.”
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