Around the world, people know climate activist Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who called on world leaders to take more decisive action on global warming. Her school strike to sit in protest in front of the Swedish parliament has inspired student demonstrations worldwide, and Time magazine has named her its 2019 Person of the Year. Western media have generally lauded her as a leader, icon and role model who speaks truth to power. Yet, in China, people tend to disapprove of Thunberg’s actions as being “radical, uninformed, theatrical” and “naive.” This article explains why reactions in China are different.
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has become an influential climate activist.
Greta Thunberg came into the public eye in August 2018 when, at age 15, she started skipping school on Fridays to protest in front of the Swedish parliament. She criticized the government for not taking enough action on climate change and urged citizens to change their lifestyles to combat global warming. Students across Europe followed in her footsteps, organizing school strikes for the climate in a movement dubbed FridaysForFuture. By March 2019, more than one million students across 120 countries and regions had participated in the movement. Time magazine listed Thunberg as one of the 100 most influential people of 2019.
Thunberg’s speeches aim to call people to action by invoking fear and panic that time is running out for planet Earth and humanity. She urges the world’s governments to reach net-zero emissions within a decade and work toward ending the use of gasoline-powered cars and airplanes. She also encourages people to become vegan.
In the West, party politics determine people’s responses to Thunberg’s activism.