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Climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year

Wednesday December 11 2019

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech at a high-level event on climate emergency during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the 'IFEMA - Feria de Madrid' exhibition centre in Madrid, on December 11, 2019. PHOTO | CRISTINA QUICLER | AFP 

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New York,

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who became the voice of conscience for a generation facing the climate change emergency, was announced Wednesday as Time magazine's 2019 Person of the Year.

The 16-year-old first hit the headlines for her solo strike against global warming outside Sweden's parliament last year.

"We can't just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow. That is all we are saying," Thunberg told Time.

The magazine interviewed Thunberg aboard the sailboat that took her from the United States to Europe after a hectic 11-week North American trip to several US cities and Canada.

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Thunberg has taken her disarmingly straightforward message -- "listen to the scientists" -- to global decision-makers, accusing them of inaction.

The Swedish activist was in Madrid as the award was announced, at a UN climate forum tasked with saving the world from runaway global warming.

"The politics of climate action are as entrenched and complex as the phenomenon itself, and Thunberg has no magic solution," Time wrote in the interview.

"But she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.

"She has offered a moral clarion call to those who are willing to act, and hurled shame on those who are not."