Greta Thunberg makes history as TIME’s youngest Person of the Year

By Zach Harper

Greta Thunberg didn’t singlehandedly start a movement when she started her climate change activism outside the Swedish parliament a little more than a year ago. There were plenty of passionate climate activists before her, but she did re-ignite environmentalism and make young people possibly more engaged than ever in caring for the Earth.

In the process, she also picked up plenty of fans – including members of the Royal Family such as Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, who featured her on the cover of the September issue of British Vogue that she guest-edited. So it makes total sense that Greta has made history as the youngest person to ever be named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year.

“Wow, this is unbelievable!” Greta tweeted on Dec. 11 after the news was announced. “I share this great honour with everyone in the #FridaysForFuture movement and climate activists everywhere.”

Aviator Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo transatlantic flight when he flew from New York to Paris in 1927 in the Spirit of St. Louis, previously held the record for youngest Person of the Year, which he was awarded when he was just 25 years old.

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In an editorial about why the publication chose 16-year-old Greta for the incredible honour, Edward Felsenthal also points out she is responsible for galvanizing 7 million people to join a worldwide climate strike in September and has “become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet.”

In her incredible 2019, she has also met with world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, her activism has been endorsed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, she’s given speeches at climate conferences worldwide and even received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“That Thunberg is the youngest individual ever named TIME’s Person of the Year says as much about the moment as it does about her,” Edward writes, stating the teenager represents a new kind of leadership that doesn’t “fit the old rubrics” and may possibly connect with the average person today more than institutions.

He goes on to write that the publication has given Greta the honour because she has been “sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have… bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, [and] showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads.”

Greta makes a speech in Montreal earlier this year during the worldwide climate strike in September. Photo: © Martin Oulette-Dionne/AFP via Getty Images

Earlier this year, the Duke of Sussex praised the activist in a speech at the OnSide Awards in London. The annual awards recognize youth who have spent the year working to “unlock [their] potential and realize the difference [they] can make.” Harry said Greta represents this perfectly.

“She may have been just one person at the beginning, but she had a belief, a mission, and a desire to do something not just for herself, but for everyone, and now – the whole world is paying attention,” he said.

“Whatever your dream – every country, every community, every school, every friendship group, every family needs their own Greta – someone who can lead the way, someone who is prepared to stand up for what they believe, and show how much they care for the people in their lives and the community among them.”

Congratulations to Greta on this massive honour, which is incredibly well deserved.

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