Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year, the magazine announced on Wednesday.
The 16-year-old, who has become the public face of climate change activism since leading school strikes in her home country of Sweden, topped President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to win the accolade. “I’d like to tell my grandchildren that we did everything we could,” she told TIME magazine. “And we did it for them and for the generations to come.”
— TIME (@TIME) December 11, 2019
TIME’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, unveiled this year’s winner on NBC’s Today Show, describing Thunberg as the “biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet.”
Thunberg, 16, is also the youngest person to ever receive the honor. pic.twitter.com/eTvLAiRtFW
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 11, 2019
“She also represents a broader generational shift in the culture that we’re seeing from the campuses of Hong Kong to the protests in Chile to Parkland, Florida, where the students marched against gun violence where young people are demanding change urgently,” said Felsenthal.
Thunberg garnered headlines earlier this year for sailing — rather than flying — from England to New York City to attended the United Nations climate summit. During the conference, Thunberg raised eyebrows for a pointed speech in which she angerly accused world leaders of robbing her and other young people of their future due to their inaction on so-called global warming.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here,” she said in her remarks. “I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”
Thunberg and a dozen other activists also lodged a complaint with the U.N. that accused France and four other countries of failing to adequately address the issue, a move that drew scorn from French President Emmanuel Macron.
Speaking at the time with Europe 1, Macron branded the complaint as “very radical” and warned it would likely “antagonize societies.”
“All the movements of our youth — or our not-so-young — are helpful,” explained the globalist leader. “But they must now focus on those who are furthest away, those who are seeking to block the way.”
Thunberg is the youngest person ever to be named the magazine’s “Person of the Year.”
TIME selected “The Guardians and the War on Truth” — a group of imprisoned and killed journalists — as its “Person of the Year” in 2018.