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Schoolgirl activist Greta Thunberg is named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019

Reuters, December 12, 2019 7:00PM Reuters

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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Picture: AFP media_cameraSwedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Picture: AFP


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Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede who inspired millions of young people to take action against climate change, has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Thunberg launched a grassroots campaign* aged 15 by skipping school every Friday to demonstrate outside Swedish parliament, pushing for her government to meet its ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions*.

media_cameraGreta Thunberg on the cover of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year edition. Picture: Evgenia ARBUGAEVA / TIME / AFP)

Her actions quickly captured people’s imagination, and in September this year millions of people took to the streets in cities across the world to support her cause.

“In the 16 months since (her protests began), she has addressed heads of state at the United Nations*, met with the Pope, sparred* with the President of the United States and inspired four million people to join the global climate strike,” Time Magazine said.

The Person of the Year award is an annual* issue of the United States news magazine that features and profiles a person, a group, an idea, or an object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence* the events of the year”.

Thunberg is the youngest individual to have won the honour.

Greta Thunberg named as Time Magazine's Person of the Year

The young activist, who turns 17 in January, is currently in Madrid at a United Nations climate summit where world leaders are discussing how to action the 2015 Paris agreement designed to stop potentially catastrophic* global warming*.

When told of the recognition, Thunberg said she was “a bit surprised”.

“I could never have imagined anything like that happening,” she said.

“I’m, of course, very grateful for that, very honoured,” Thunberg said, but added, “it should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement* because what we have done, we have done together.”


  • grassroots campaign: many people working together to achieve a goal
  • carbon emissions: release of carbon dioxide gas which is thought to be harmful to the environment
  • United Nations: an international organisation formed in 1945 to increase political and economic co-operation among its member countries
  • sparred: argued
  • annual: happens every year
  • influence: change
  • catastrophic: disastrous
  • global warming: rising temperatures across the world
  • movement: campaign or action


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  1. Who named Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year?
  2. How old was Greta when she started skipping school to protest?
  3. How many people has she inspired to strike around the world?
  4. Where is Greta currently speaking?
  5. What is the 2015 Paris agreement?


1. Write a profile
The Person of the Year award is an annual issue of Time Magazine that features and profiles a person, a group, an idea, or an object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year”.

How has Greta Thunberg influenced the events of the 2019? Write a short introduction of Greta Thunberg that Time Magazine could have used to introduce their feature article about Greta. Your introduction should summarise who Greta is and highlight how her actions have influenced the events of 2019. You will find some information in the article; however, you may need to do some further research in the Extra Reading section to help.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability

2. Extension
While Greta was named Person of the Year there were four runners up for the title —

US President Donald Trump, American politician Nancy Pelosi, The Hong Kong protesters and the Whistleblower in the Trump/Ukraine scandal.

Find out how each of these people have influenced events in 2019.

Do you think any of these people should have been named instead of Greta Thunberg? Write a short paragraph stating who you think should have been named and why them instead of Greta. If you believe Greta was the right choice explain why she should have been named over the others.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capabilities

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Is Greta Thunberg a good choice for Person of the Year? Tell us why or why not.
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in humanities