Europe

Greta Thunberg turns 18, hopes 2021 will be the 'year of awakening'

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg during a "Fridays for Future" protest in front of the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm in October 2020. Source: AFP

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who galvanised attention on the issue of climate change affecting future generations, has reached adulthood.

One of the world's best-known teenagers, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, is turning 18 and gaining all the rights of adulthood.

Ms Thunberg won international attention when her lone school strike outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 turned into a global movement by young people.

On Sunday she turns 18, giving her the right to marry, the right to drive - and the right to vote in the next Swedish general election scheduled in 2022.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, climate protests and rallies have been scaled back this year, and Ms Thunberg and others have had to resort to online protests.

Since 2018, Ms Thunberg has had two consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, received several other accolades and awards, and addressed world leaders at various conferences and summits.

Her rallying call has been to "listen to the science", urging decision makers to take action, and she has repeatedly criticised politicians for passing the buck to children.

Come Sunday, Ms Thunberg is no longer a child, but her fight for climate will likely continue unabated.

She remains hopeful 2021 can be a year of change.

"Happy New Year! May 2021 be the year of awakening and real bold change. And let's all continue the never-ending fight for the living planet," she said on Twitter on 1 January.

For the past decade she has mulled issues related to global warming and climate change. At age 11, she suffered from depression. She said a contributing factor was that not enough was done to tackle global warming.

Ms Thunberg has over the years also been the target of spiteful and hateful comments, even threats.

She seeks to protect her privacy, and the few interviews she grants are used to focus on climate issues, rather than her person.

In 2020, she established a non-profit foundation to promote ecological and social sustainability, and mental health.

Ms Thunberg's supporters and fellow climate activists flooded Twitter with birthday wishes for the Swede on Sunday.

Ms Thunberg has Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. She has said it helps her focus on issues she finds important, noting "there are no grey areas when it comes to survival".

With reporting by Caroline Riches

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