Time magazine on Wednesday announced teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is its 2019 Person of the Year. The 16-year-old Thunberg first made headlines last year with her solitary strike against climate change outside Sweden’s parliament.
Since then, she’s inspired millions of supporters to rally in more than 150 countries. In September, she scolded world leaders at the United Nations for failing to address climate change.
“People are suffering. People are dying and dying ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is the money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” she said Monday, as she fought back tears. “How dare you! For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”
When asked by “CBS This Morning” in September how she found the confidence to speak so clearly, Thunberg said that “I just know what is right and I want to do what is right. I want to make sure I have done anything, everything in my power to stop this crisis from happening, to prevent it.”
“I have Asperger’s, I’m on the autism spectrum, so I don’t really care about social codes that way,” she added.
In some cases, she said, her neurodiversity gives her an advantage. It “makes you different and makes you think differently,” she said. “Especially in a big crisis like this one, we need to think outside the box, we need to think outside our current system, we need people who think outside the box and who aren’t like everyone else.”
As Time announced Thunberg as its Person of the Year, the teenager was attending U.N. climate talks in Madrid, where she accused political and business leaders of inaction on climate change. “The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR,” Thunberg said.
This year’s Time Entertainer of the Year goes to Lizzo. The “Good as Hell” singer often incorporates themes of confidence and self-love into her music. The U.S. women’s national soccer team clinched Time’s Sports Figure of the Year.
Time earlier released a list of Person of the Year finalists, which included Thunberg, President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the anonymous whistleblower, Rudy Giuliani, soccer star Megan Rapinoe, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg the Hong Kong protesters.
Last year, slain Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and other journalists that Time magazine called “the guardians” were named Person of the Year.