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For second year straight, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has become known for her fiery speeches to world leaders. (AFP/File / NICHOLAS KAMM)

Without Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement, “the climate issue would not have been on the agenda to such an extent as it is today.”

Swedish 17-year-old Greta Thunberg, founder of the global youth-led climate action movement Fridays for Future, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the second consecutive year.

“The main reason she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is that despite her young age, she has worked hard to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis.”
—Jens Holm and Håkan Svenneling, Swedish parliamentarians

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Nominations for the 2020 award were due Feb. 1. Thunberg was nominated by Jens Holm and Håkan Svenneling, members of Sweden’s Left Party.

“Greta Thunberg is a climate activist, and the main reason she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is that despite her young age, she has worked hard to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis,” Holm and Svenneling reportedly wrote to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

“The climate crisis will produce new conflicts and ultimately wars. Action for reducing our emissions and complying with the Paris agreement is therefore also an act of making peace,” the parliamentarians continued. Without Thunberg and the movement she sparked, they added, “the climate issue would not have been on the agenda to such an extent as it is today.”

Although Thunberg was considered a favorite to receive the 2019 prize, it ultimately went to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”

Thunberg has been granted several other honors since she started skipping school to protest outside the Swedish Parliament in 2018, at the age of 15, which inspired other students worldwide to walk out of classrooms and take to the streets to call for more ambitious efforts to combat the climate crisis.

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Last year, Thunberg was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year and received Amnesty International’s top human rights award. She also was one of four recipients of the Right Livelihood Award, often called the “alternative Nobel Peace Prize.”

In October 2019, Thunberg declined the Nordic Council’s annual environmental award after being nominated by her home country and Norway. At the time, she called the award “a huge honor” but explained that “the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science.”

The teen activist urged the Nordic countries that make up the council to “act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees or even 2 degrees Celsius,” referencing key targets from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

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As of press time, Thunberg had not publicly commented on her second nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the news came after Thunberg participated in a press conference on Friday that aimed to pressure the international community, and particularly global media, to pay more attention to the work of climate activists across Africa and how human-caused global heating is already impacting the continent.

Addressing reporters alongside Ell Ottosson Jarl, another Swedish Fridays for Future activist, Thunberg said Friday that “we have noticed that wherever we show up, people like us show up, there’s a huge media interest… and since we have a platform, we must make sure that the voices of the people who should be heard are heard as well.”

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“That’s why we’re doing this press conference today, so that people who need to be heard can share their stories to the media,” she added. “Today we will be focusing on Africa—activists and scientists from Africa—as the African perspective is always so under-reported.”

The African participants of the press conference were three Fridays for Future activists—Vanessa Nakate of Uganda, Makenna Muigai of Kenya, and Ayakha Melithafa of South Africa—and Ndoni Mcunu, a climate scientist at the Global Change Institute at University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

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