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Greta Thunberg named Time magazine's Person of the Year

Wednesday, December 11th 2019, 5:59 pm - Thunberg is the magazine’s youngest choice ever to be named Person of the Year.

Time magazine has announced that teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is their Person of the Year for 2019.

The 16-year-old from Sweden has become a symbol for climate change and environmental activism and has spent much of the year speaking at international conferences, leading climate protests and raising awareness about the dangerous consequences of human-caused climate change.

Her activism started in 2018 when she began protesting outside of the Swedish Parliament on Fridays instead of going to school. She sat next to the building holding a hand-painted sign that read “skolstrejk för klimatet,” which translates to “School strike for the climate,” and has become an internationally recognized slogan.

big greta Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thunberg explains that youth leaving school to protest acknowledges that young people are growing up in a climate that is experiencing catastrophic changes because of human-released greenhouse gas emissions, which she says are due to corporate greed and lack of political action from global leaders.

> Time magazine has announced that teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is their Person of the Year for 2019.

Time editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, told the TODAY show that Thunberg is the magazine’s youngest Person of the Year and says that she "represents a broader generational shift in the culture."

Climate change has dominated headlines in 2019 and Thunberg has inspired millions of people across the planet to participate in the “Fridays For Future” movement. Some of her most notable appearances include speaking at the United Nations and meeting with political leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


Thunberg made several Canadian appearances that have drawn tens of thousands of people over the past year. In October, 10,000 gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery in B.C. to hear her speak. "If the people in power won't take their responsibility, we will," she said amid cheers and applause. "It should not be up to us but somebody needs to do it."

The timing of her appearance at the Canadian climate strikes occurred during the federal election. Days before election day, a speech in Edmonton, Alberta drew criticism from provincial politicians, with Thunberg being accused of inserting herself into a heated political debate on climate change.

“We cannot allow this crisis to continue to be a partisan, political question," she told a crowd of 5,000 people. "Climate and ecological crisis is far beyond party politics and the main enemy right now should not be any political opponents, because our main enemy is physics."

Thunberg met with Prime Minister Trudeau in September 2019 ahead of the mass climate rally in Montreal, a gathering that attracted half a million people. After, when asked if she had a message for Trudeau, she said she told him what she tells every political leader -- they are not doing enough to fight climate change.

The federal government released Canada’s Changing Climate Report, which is a comprehensive review of scientific studies that analyze the environmental crisis we are currently facing, and how climate change will progress in the future depending on global carbon dioxide emissions.

One of the most notable findings of this report is that Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as the global average and the Arctic is the fastest warming place on Earth. The reason that this region is particularly sensitive to the warming atmosphere is because of several mechanisms in the environment that transport heat towards the Arctic, which increases ice melt in addition to the warming atmosphere and oceans.

Ice is highly reflective of sunlight and when it melts more ocean is exposed. Oceans are less reflective than ice and absorb more warmth from the Sun, which then causes more ice to melt. This relationship is expected to continue melting ice across the world as greenhouse gas emissions increase and scientists warn that this could have devastating consequences on Canada's landscape.


Canada has set a number of goals to reduce the severity of climate change’s impacts, including a 2030 emission reduction target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels and net-zero emissions by 2050.

Net-zero emissions by 2050 is a highly ambitious goal and Canada is falling behind other reduction targets that were previously set. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate was implemented in 2016 as a strategy for reducing national emissions but has only been adopted in small increments.

The framework includes phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030, widespread development of energy-efficient buildings, and developing a Canada-wide strategy for zero-emission vehicles. The ambitious goals are a step in the right direction, however, emissions are projected to still be above 1990 levels beyond 2030, which is far from the Paris Agreement target of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2°C.

The Speech from the Throne recently opened a new session of Parliament and climate change was one of the most prominent topics in the official remarks. “Canada’s children and grandchildren will judge this generation by its action – or inaction – on the defining challenge of the time: climate change,” the speech stated.

“Climate” appeared 11 times in Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s speech, which was 3,300 words long. For comparison, the 2013 throne speech delivered by Payette's immediate predecessor, David Johnston was over 7,000 words long and did not mention “climate” once.

Steps that the government states it will take to achieve this net-zero emissions goal include a price on pollution; affordable energy-efficient homes; options that will make it easier for people to choose zero-emission vehicles; clean power that is affordable for all communities; working with businesses to make Canada the best place to start and grow a clean technology company; and assistance for people who have been displaced by climate-related disasters.

With additional reporting by Cheryl Santa Maria.

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