Time magazine has named Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist, as its 2019 Person of the Year.
Thunberg, the youngest recipient of the annual honor, was selected from a shortlist that included Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, the Trump impeachment whistleblower and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Thunberg gained national attention for skipping school to protest outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger climate change action.
“Meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earth’s existential crisis found one in Greta Thunberg,” Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote in explaining the choice. “Marshaling ‘Fridays for Future’ protests throughout Europe; thundering, ‘How dare you!’ at the world’s most powerful leaders in her viral U.N. speech; leading some 7 million climate strikers across the world in September and tens of thousands more in Madrid in early December, Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet — and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington.”
This August, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from England to New York on a zero-carbon yacht to make a statement about reducing emissions. After her 15-day journey, she attended the UN Climate Action Summit and addressed the country’s leaders for not doing enough to battle the environmental crisis.
“Thunberg stands on the shoulders — and at the side — of hundreds of thousands of others who’ve been blockading the streets and settling the science, many of them since before she was born,” Felsenthal continued. “She is also the first to note that her privileged background makes her “one of the lucky ones,” as she puts it, in a crisis that disproportionately affects poor and indigenous communities. But this was the year the climate crisis went from behind the curtain to center stage, from ambient political noise to squarely on the world’s agenda, and no one did more to make that happen than Thunberg.”
Time also named Disney chief Bob Iger its businessperson of the year, while Lizzo was named entertainer of the year. The U.S. women’s soccer team were named athletes of the year, and public servants were named guardians of the year.