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15-Year-Old’s Climate Protest Inspires People Around the World

Stockholm, Sweden —(Map)

Upset by how long it is taking adults to deal with the problems of climate change, young people around the world are fighting to force their governments to take action. This article is part of a series about young people fighting for action on climate change.

In Stockholm, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg has been skipping school to sit outside Sweden’s parliament  building. She hopes her protests will force Sweden’s government to focus on climate change.

Greta has known about climate change for years. “I grasped [understood] the issue of climate change when I was 12 and decided to never fly again, nor eat meat,” she said. (Airplane pollution and raising animals for meat both make climate change worse.) She taught her family about climate change, too. Her mother, a famous opera singer, has now given up flying between countries.

Greta holding sign that says, "School Strike for Climate".
15-year-old Greta Thunberg has been skipping school to protest outside Sweden’s parliament building. She wants Sweden’s government to focus on climate change.
(Source: Greta Thunberg.)

Climate Change 
Climate change means the change in weather patterns around the world because of human activity. Global warming is one result of climate change. The world is getting hotter, mainly because humans are burning “fossil fuels” like coal, oil, and natural gas to make energy.
In 2015, the world’s countries signed the Paris Agreement, which set goals for countries to pollute less by replacing fossil fuel energy with energy that doesn’t pollute.

What Greta couldn’t understand is why people weren’t talking more about climate change and doing more to stop it. She felt that by ignoring climate change, adults were ruining the future of young people.

Greta was especially disappointed that politicians didn’t seem to be taking climate change seriously. She decided she needed to protest. “I am doing this because nobody else is doing anything,” she said.

Greta posted this picture of herself visiting a coal-burning power station.

Greta decided that every day, until the next election, instead of going to school, she would go sit in front of the parliament building.

She knew she would be breaking the law. In Sweden, students under the age of 16 must go to school. But she thought climate change was more important. “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules,” she says. “The rules have to be changed.”

Greta seated with backpack. On the left is her sign in Swedish, which says, "School Strike for Climate".
When Greta began her protest, she thought she would be sitting by herself. Instead, she found that she soon got lots of attention and company.
(Source: Greta Thunberg.)

So Greta began her protest, holding a sign that said, “School Strike for Climate.” She thought she would be sitting by herself. But instead, she found that she soon got lots of attention and company.

People, including politicians, began to stop by and talk with her. Others came to sit down and protest with her. Reporters stopped by to ask questions about her strike, and word began to spread. Greta has now been interviewed by reporters from newspapers, and TV and radio stations in Sweden and in other countries.

Greta’s ideas have spread far and wide. In countries around the world, people are protesting on “Fridays for the Future”.

After the election, Greta moved her school strike to Fridays. Now she is not only joined by people in Sweden. Her ideas have spread far and wide. In countries around the world, students and others are also protesting on “Fridays for the Future”. Greta says, “If everyone knew how serious the situation is and how little is actually being done, everyone would come and sit down beside us.”

Greta has traveled (by electric car) to Finland and England to speak to crowds about climate change. Recently, she also gave a speech at TEDx Stockholm.

Greta giving a talk at TEDxStockholm.
Greta has traveled to Finland and England to speak to crowds about climate change. Recently, she also gave a speech at TEDx Stockholm.
(Source: Greta Thunberg.)

Greta knows that dealing with climate change will not be easy. People will have to give up things that are important to them. Greta has given up things herself and she is clear about the hard choices that are ahead of us. She just hopes that leaders take action in time.

But she is hopeful. “I think that if a few girls can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to.”

Stockholm, Sweden


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