In 2018, a teenage girl caught the attention of the world when she began protesting outside the Swedish Parliament at the age of 15. She held a sign saying “School Strike for Climate”, to pressure the government to meet carbon emissions targets.

Her small campaign had a global effect, inspiring thousands of young people across the world to organise their own strikes. By December 2018, more than 20,000 students — from the United Kingdom to Japan — had joined her by skipping school to protest.

The following year, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in the battle against climate change and she also made history by becoming the youngest to be named as TIME magazine’s person of the year.

Keeping a relatively low-profile in the past few months, it appears that the teenager, known for her passionate speeches urging for climate control, is preparing for her 23 September global climate strike.

In 2018, 15-year-old Greta began a global movement when she began skipping school, camping out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: “School Strike for Climate.”

Suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, she quickly garnered attention for speaking in a direct and uncomplicated manner. Where others speak the language of hope, Thunberg has only repeated unassailable science: Oceans will rise. Cities will flood. Millions of people will suffer.

Since then, she has gone global, striking a chord with young people dissatisfied by the slow progress in climate change mitigation. At just 16, she inspired youths in dozens of countries to strike from school in ‘Fridays For Future’ protests.

She was invited for climate conventions in Stockholm, Helsinki, Brussels and London. She also attended the United Nations COP24 where she addressed the secretary-general and made a speech that went viral and was shared many million times.

In 2019, her ‘how dare you’ speech at the UN Climate Change Summit, accusing world leaders of betraying her generation by failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions went viral and caught the attention of the global audience.

She has truly been unapologetic in her speeches while assailing world leaders of doing very little to fight the climate crisis. So much so, that in 2021 during the COP26 Summit in Scotland’s Glasgow, she joined protesters singing “You can shove your climate crisis up you’re a**e”.

Speaking to the crowd, the Swede said: “Inside COP there are just politicians and people in power pretending to take our future seriously, pretending to take the present seriously of the people who are being affected already today by the climate crisis.

“Change is not going to come from inside there. That is not leadership – this is leadership.

“We say no more blah blah blah, no more exploitation of people and nature and the planet.”

She added: “We’re sick and tired of it and we’re going to make the change whether they like it or not.”

Toolkit controversy

In 2021, Greta earned the ire of many Indians for her tweet on the farmers’ protest containing a ‘toolkit’, that talked about protests across the world over the issue and detailed the actions taken to support the protests.

The toolkit was meant to enable anyone unfamiliar with the ongoing farmers protests in India to better understand the situation and make decisions on how to support the farmers based on their own analysis. It further gave a brief introduction to why the farmers had been agitating since November 2020.

“This is not just about one country and its oppressed peoples, it’s about common people across the world having the opportunity to be self-sufficient, feel secure about providing for their families, and live well. On their own terms, as any democracy true to its name should facilitate,” the toolkit read.

Many saw it as an attempt to tarnish the image of India.

The police, the government and many others termed the “toolkit” a part of a conspiracy against India.

What is Greta up to now?

As much praise Greta received for her efforts, she has also received brickbats. Recently, Sky News host Andrew Bolt said that the Greta Thunberg cult has “gone bust”.

And his statement seems to be pretty accurate.

This year, Greta has been quite silent on issues — surprisingly at a time when the ill-effects of climate change are all around us: the worst drought in Europe, rivers drying up in China, wildfires across Greece and parts of Europe and massive floods in Pakistan and the United States.

She was last seen at the Glastonbury festival in UK in June where she once again warned that the world faces a “total natural catastrophe” unless citizens take urgent action.

Thunberg was quoted as saying: “We are approaching the precipice and I would strongly suggest that all of those who have not yet been greenwashed out of our senses to stand our ground.

“Do you not let them drag us another inch closer to the edge. Right now is where we stand our ground.”

Since then, the Swede has been away from the limelight, but she continues to advocate for the climate via her social media.

She has highlighted the miseries of Pakistan and China through her tweets. In one of her most recent tweets, she speaks of the need for people in Sweden to raise their voice as the country prepares to go the polls.

It appears that Greta Thunberg has now served her purpose and so she can be dropped. It is left to be seen if she can manage to grab the spotlight once again with her mother-of-all climate strikes on 23 September.

With inputs from agencies

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