The 17-year-old climate activist from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, has become the leading figure of climate activism over the past few years. Speaking at top-level conferences and summits, leading massive protests on a global scale, and outspoken in her criticism of the world leaders for their lack of action over the climate emergency, Greta Thunberg became the youngest person ever to be named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2019.

Here are some quotes by Greta Thunberg, taken from her speeches, interviews, and social media posts, which effectively convey her message to the world and what exactly she stands for.  

Climate Activism

“If I could choose, I would only be normal – a normal teenager – and go to school. But this is not a normal situation and we must all do things we might not find comfortable.”

“Some say that we should not engage in activism; instead we should leave everything to our politicians and just vote for change instead. But what do we do when there is no political will? What do we do when the politics needed are nowhere in sight?”

Greta Thunberg at UN Climate Change Conference
Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Change Conference during December 2019

Keeping the Movement Peaceful

“I cannot enough express the fact that I – as well as the entire school strike movement – are against any possible form of violence. It goes without saying but I say it anyway.”

Asperger Syndrome

“I have Asperger’s and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.”

Who is Greta Thunberg? Find out here

“It is hard to be different sometimes. I have Asperger’s…I have been very limited by my diagnosis in the past, but now I don’t ‘suffer’ from it anymore. I use it in a way that I can take advantage of.”

Public Awakening

“I hear many say 2019 was the year when the public woke up to the climate crisis. This is a misconception. A small but rapidly growing number of people have started to wake up to the climate crisis. This has only just begun. We’re still only scratching the surface.”

Greta Thunberg with fellow protesters in Turin, Italy
Greta Thunberg with fellow protesters in Turin, Italy

Power of the People

“It is public opinion that runs the free world. In fact, every great change throughout history has come from the people. We do not have to wait. We can start the change right now – we, the people!”

Learn how the state of the world climate has deteriorated in recent years

“Well, I’m telling you there is hope. I have seen it. But it does not come from the governments or the corporations. It comes from the people – the people who have been unaware but are now starting to wake up. And once we become aware, we change.”

Who is to Blame?

“Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity with a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.”

To the World Leaders

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

“You only speak of a green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular…But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.”

The Real Danger

“I still believe that the real danger is not inaction. 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.”

Greta Thunberg leading a protest on the sidelines of 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid
Greta Thunberg leading a huge protest on the sidelines of the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid

Opposition to Climate Emergency

“I’m sometimes called ‘political’. But I’ve never supported any political party, politician or ideology. I communicate the science and the risks of failing to act on it.”

“We get all this hate which shows we are actually making a difference and they see us as a threat.”

The Solution

“The main solution however is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. And either we do that or we don’t. You say nothing in life is black or white, but that is a lie – a very dangerous lie.”

“We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within this system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself.”