This Tuesday, activist Greta Thunberg turned down the Nordic Council’s 2019 Environment Prize.
“It is a huge honor,” she told the Council. “But the climate movement does not need any more awards.”
Instead, the movement needs governments “to act in accordance with what the science says,” according to Thunberg.
Greta Thunberg urges change over awards
In her statement declining the award, Thunberg demanded that the Nordic countries do more to combat climate change. As it is, Nordic countries boast about their environmental achievements, but the reality “is a whole other story.”
Knowing this, Thunberg sees the award as a representation of the performative environmentalism adopted in the Nordic region.
“The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words,” she said.
But Thunberg believes the Nordic countries are not doing nearly enough to combat climate change.
Account for Nordic carbon emissions, consumption, imports, shipping, aviation, and other harmful industries and you’ll find that Nordic environmentalism is all talk, no game.
“In Sweden we live as if we had about 4 planets,” Thunberg continued, citing the World Wide Fund for Nature and Global Footprint Network. “And roughly the same goes for the entire Nordic region.”
She noted a recent example. The Norwegian government recently approved a record number of permits for companies to find new oil and gas sources. What’s worse, a new oil and gas field just opened up and will run for 50 years, emitting 1.3 tons of carbon dioxide. And global emissions are already reaching disastrous levels.
It’s time for action
These actions of the Nordic governments, that ignore environmental threats in favor of profit, have larger consequences than officials may realize.
Thunberg mentioned that it’s the Nordic countries that need to make the first strides. As the Paris Agreement stresses the concept of climate equity, Thunberg believes that affluent societies must take initiative.
“We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing.”
So, as long as Nordic countries continue to ignore the dire threats of climate collapse, Greta Thunberg has chosen to decline the award.
In doing so, Thunberg has also rejected its 500,000 Swedish kronor (52,000 US dollars) in prize money. The Nordic Council is currently determining how else to dedicate the funds.