After months of crisscrossing the Atlantic to attend first the UN climate summit in New York and then COP25 talks in Madrid, teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg was back in Sweden on Friday, taking part in a rally outside the parliament where her protests first began over a year ago.
Dressed in her trademark yellow sou’wester and woollen hat and trailed by a pack of bodyguards, Thunberg met with a group of young climate activists just outside the parliamentary building.
Named 2019 Person of the Year by Time magazine, Thunberg said she hoped the distinction would help put her cause in the spotlight.
“I really hope that it raises awareness and motivates others to get involved in the campaign,” she told Swedish news agency TT.
Just over a year ago, at the start of the school year, the then-ninth grade student left her books at home and began sitting outside the Swedish parliament to raise awareness about the climate emergency.
Her “school strike” made the rounds of social media before gaining momentum in the international press – and the “Fridays for Future” movement was born.
The Greta phenomenon went viral. Her Twitter and Instagram accounts now have more than six million followers.
As the unofficial spokesperson for her generation, Thunberg wants to sound the alarm about global warming among the world’s politicians, as witnessed in her rousing “How Dare You?” speech at the UN climate summit.
Her struggle has inspired more than just fellow teenagers to take up the cause and at the Stockholm rally banners for “pensioners for the climate” could be seen.
Hjalmar Nowak, a 55-year-old psychiatrist carrying a sign with the words “Doctor strike for the climate,” said that Greta’s achievements had been inspiring, even if the young climate activist herself was disappointed.
“Well, Greta says they have achieved nothing since the emissions are still rising. That’s true, of course, but they have achieved a lot by raising awareness,” he told AFP.
Nevertheless, the last round of climate negotiations at the COP25 in Madrid earlier in December did not yield the results many had hoped for, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres dubbing it a “lost opportunity”.
Thunberg has not said what her plans are for the next few months.
But her many Swedish fans and supporters seemed happy to have her back on her home turf.
“Valkommen hem!” (“Welcome home”) one of them wrote on her Instagram account.