GP Insights # 202, 15 December 2019
Greta Thunberg is TIME's person of the year
Greta Thunberg has been named the TIME Person of the year for 2019. "For decades, researchers and activists have struggled to get world leaders to take the climate threat seriously… But this year, an unlikely teenager somehow got the world's attention," mentioned TIME's cover story announcing her selection.
In 16 months she has gone come a long way from a lone protester. She has addressed heads of state at the UN, met the Pope and inspired over four million people to join the global climate strike on 20 September, 2019, one of the largest climate demonstrations in human history. Greta addressed the latest round of UN climate talks in Madrid. She was seen bluntly criticizing the world leaders for "negotiating loopholes" and using public relations agencies to make it appear like they are achieving bold climate targets.
What is the background?
Climate awareness became prominent in 2019. Greta began with the #FridaysForFuture is a movement that began in August 2018. Greta chose to sit for a strike every Friday until the Swedish policies provided a safe pathway well under 2-degree C, i.e. in line with the Paris agreement. This is when the hashtags #FridaysForFuture and #Climatestrike spread, to protest against the inaction on the climate crisis.
She used Instagram and Twitter to share her protests and it soon went viral. Many students and adults began to protest outside of their parliaments and local city halls all over the world, making #FridaysForFuture a global concern. Simultaneously, the world witnessed some European countries declare a 'Climate Emergency.' The year 2019 also saw some deadly natural and 'unnatural' calamities that caused large-scale damage to the environment and the popularity of the cause that Greta stands for, grew with the concern for these damages.
Climate activists and agencies have begun to stand against the mass damage of the environment by the multiple corporations and governments and they have started gaining the attention of the world. The young activists have gained the world's attention and they are going to be a serious challenge to corporate activity both directly and indirectly. 2018 Person of the Year was the Journalists who had been mysteriously killed or went missing.
What does it mean?
The cause of Climate awareness has strongly shifted towards civil society. The shift in attention is towards the voices of whom the future belongs. According to TIME, Greta drew her inspiration from the young activists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, who organized nationwide protests for gun safety after the shooting of their classmates. In 2019, the world witnessed youngsters, especially young girls come to the fore and stand up for what they believe in. These names have become endearing for the cause they stand for. In a way, Greta represents this change, encouraging many more youngsters to come forward and fight for what they believe in.