STOCKHOLM – Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg pledged to continue her fight this year for measures to curb climate change and expressed hope that, given the opportunity, she may visit Japan.
In an interview Friday the 17-year-old said she remains “determined … to have an impact and to change the way we treat the climate crisis, to spread awareness and put pressure on people in power.”
She made the comments while taking part in a weekly demonstration held by school students in her hometown of Stockholm, on a date that happened to coincide with her birthday.
“The science predicts that it will get worse with time if we don’t do anything. So we are trying to make sure that we do as much as possible to prevent the worst consequences,” Thunberg said of her concern over climate change.
Scientists link rising global temperatures to more frequent droughts and floods as well as melting glaciers and rising sea levels, among other effects impacting human life around the world.
Thunberg sparked a global youth movement when she began her “school strike for the climate” in 2018, skipping school on Fridays to protest outside the Swedish parliament in an effort to highlight global environmental problems.
Thunberg’s activism propelled her onto the world stage and in 2019 she addressed major U.N. climate conferences in New York and Madrid, which she described as an “incredible” opportunity.
On her plans for this year, Thunberg said she will take every opportunity to appeal directly to world leaders to reduce global emissions. Later this month, she plans to attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, alongside political and business leaders.
Another aim is to travel to different parts of the world to spread her message, including Japan and elsewhere in Asia, Thunberg said. “If I am invited (to go to Japan), I will definitely try to go there.”
Long-haul travel presents a challenge for Thunberg, who does not fly due to the environmental damage caused by air travel. To attend a 2019 climate summit in New York, Thunberg made a two-week-long journey across the Atlantic in a zero-carbon yacht.
Japan is among the countries that have seen student demonstrations inspired by Thunberg. She said young people have been “betrayed” by their elders and urged supporters in Japan to “put pressure on older generations and people in power so that they take responsibility and do their job to protect our futures.”
“We are in the beginning of a global climate and environmental emergency. … So we need to come together and stand in solidarity in this crisis,” she said.