Greta Thunberg rejects Nordic Council environmental award


Greta Thunberg at a climate march in New York City

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Greta Thunberg started international strikes and protests over climate change

Greta Thunberg has turned down an environmental award and prize money because “the climate movement does not need any more awards”.

She thanked the Nordic Council for offering her the award and said it was a “huge honour”.

But, she said, “politicians and the people in power” need to listen to the “current, best-available science”.

Ms Thunberg was this year’s favourite to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but the award went to Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed.

In an Instagram post explaining her decision to turn down the prize money of 500,000 kronor (£40,000; €46,000), Ms Thunberg said: “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.”

But she said Nordic energy consumption told “a whole other story”.

She referenced a report from from WWF and the Global Footprint Network, which says Sweden, along with most of the Nordic region, lives as if the world has the resources of four planets.

The gap between what science said was needed to limit a global temperature increase and what was being implemented was “gigantic”, said Ms Thunberg.

“We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing,” she added.

The Nordic Council encourages co-operation between parliaments in countries including Denmark, Finland and Ms Thunberg’s home country Sweden.

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Media caption“You are failing us,” Greta tells world leaders

Who else has turned down an award?

  • Jean-Paul Sartre refused the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964. He said he “always declined official honours” as he did not want to be “turned into an institution”.
  • Musician David Bowie turned down a CBE in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003. He told The Sun: “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don’t know what it’s for.
  • Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho was jointly offered the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for negotiating an armistice in Vietnam. Tho refused the award as the war between Vietnam and the USA was ongoing, and he accused Kissinger of violating a truce.

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“It’s not what I spent my life working for,” David Bowie said of a knighthood

  • In 2012, a high-school social studies teacher in Wisconsin refused the Martin Luther King Jnr Humanitarian award as it was presented by Republican congressman Paul Ryan. The teacher, Al Levie, disagreed with the politician’s views on healthcare and said it was “hypocritical” for him to be at the event.
  • British comedian John Cleese turned down a CBE in 1996 and three years later refused a peerage – the opportunity to sit in the House of Lords – because he did not want to remain in the UK during the winter months.


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