Time named teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as its person of the year today, after she inspired worldwide protests against inaction on tackling climate change.
The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, whose school strikes in 2018 sparked the so-called Fridays for future movement, is the youngest person to win the prestigious magazine title.
Announcing the decision on US morning show Today, Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said: “She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.”
Thunberg began protesting alone outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018, holding a hand-painted sign that read “School strike for the climate”.
Her protests spread across Europe and to the rest of the world in the form of the Fridays for Future movement, where schoolchildren have taken time off class to demand action to prevent further global warming.
After attending the UN General Assembly in September, Thunberg has sailed from the US to Lisbon, to attend the COP25 climate conference in Madrid.
She addressed the conference today, in a speech where she praised popular movements to address climate change.
She said: “There is hope. I have seen it. It does not come from governments or corporations. It comes from the people.”
Thunberg has yet to respond to the Time announcement. She refused an environmental award last month from Scandinavian organisation The Nordic Council, saying: “The climate movement does not need any more awards. We need politicians and the people in power to start to listen to the current, best available science.”
The other four finalists were Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, the whistleblower whose confessions launched the impeachment process and the Hong Kong protesters.
Time also announced three new awards. It named Disney boss Bob Iger as Businessperson of the Year, the US Women’s Soccer team as Best Athlete and musician Lizzo as Best Entertainer.