The publication announced that Thunberg was the 2019 recipient overnight, with a cover image noting the 16-year-old climate activist symbolising the ‘power of youth’.
She’s the first girl, and one of very few women, to ever take the accolade which was in the past known as ‘Man of the Year’. Men have won it 66 times since its introduction in 1927/1928, groups of people have been on the cover 21 times and ‘nonhuman entities’ (like ‘the computer'” twice.
TIME noted how Thunberg started a global movement in late 2018, that initially saw her skipping school to demand climate action and camping outside the Swedish Parliament, before later inspiring school kids all over the world to participate — and taking her message to stages across the world, including in New York where she delivered her famous “how dare you” speech.
— TIME (@TIME) December 11, 2019
“She has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history,” the TIME editors said.
TIME added that she’s been compared to Joan of Arc by Margaret Atwood. Also that the lexicographers at Collins Dictionary have named “climate strike” — Thunberg’s pioneering idea — as its word of the year.
Thunberg told media in Madrid, where she is participating in the UN climate summit, that she was surprised to find out because, “I could never have imagined anything like that happening.
“It’s so unexpected, so I am of course very grateful for that, very honoured,” she said.
“But as I have said before, I should not be the one to be person of the year, it should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together.”
Meanwhile also Madrid, Thunberg has accused world leaders of creative PR.
“The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”