Climate change icon Greta Thunberg chosen Time Person of the Year

Teen activist Greta Thunberg, who started a worldwide movement against climate change, particularly among students, has been named the 2019 'Person of the Year' by Time magazine. Thunberg was in the race for the honor along with four others.

Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg is Time's Person of the Year 2019 Time/Twitter

The 16-year-old Swede became an overnight sensation following her blistering address to policy makers during the Climate Action Summit held at the UN General Assembly in New York in September.

What caught the imagination was the fact that Thunberg had traveled on a zero-emission racing yacht across the Atlantic Ocean for 14 days to reach the summit venue.

Thunberg told a packed audience that included world leaders at the UN General Assembly: "My message is that we will be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. You have come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my childhood with empty words. Yet, I'm one of the lucky ones."

As the emotional speech went viral, Thunberg became an icon of youngsters raising voices against global warming.

Thunberg pips Trump

Apart from Thunberg, Time had shortlisted Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, an unnamed whistleblower who raised concerns about a phone call between Ukraine's president and U.S. President Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker who started an impeachment investigation into Trump in September, and President Trump himself.

Time wrote on its website: "Thunberg won the award for sounding the alarm about humanity's predatory relationship with the only home we have...for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads."

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Thunberg said: "I'm, of course, very grateful for that, very honored. It should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together."

Hoping that her message on the need for governments to increase their efforts in combating climate change would finally be heard, she said though world leaders say they listen and understand, it doesn't seem like that.

Nobel prize nomination

Thunberg was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the weekly movement by school students called 'Fridays for Future'.

The movement, which began in August 2018, saw Thunberg sitting outside the Swedish parliament for three weeks. The demonstration launched during Thunberg's school days demanded action on climate change.

The movement drew the active participation of more than two million school students from 135 countries raising their voices against climate change. It was this record-breaking feat that won Thunberg the Nobel nomination.

Praise for Thunberg

Amnesty International, which had previously named Thunberg an "ambassador of conscience" said the group will never cease to be amazed by the Swedish teen's relentless demonstration of youth-run activism.

Time editor-at-large Anand Giridharadas tweeted: "She is telling us that real change is costly, real change requires giving things up, the loss of power and privilege, new systems, new ways of life."

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is "grateful for all she's done to raise awareness of the climate crisis and her willingness to tell hard, motivating truths".