Hours after judges passed her up for the Nobel Peace Prize, Greta Thunberg stood before a cheering throng, insisting once again that something must be done about climate change and fast.
“We as young people are tired of constantly being betrayed by those who are supposed to work for our greater good,” the 16-year-old Swedish activist told hundreds of supporters gathered in an outdoor amphitheatre in Colorado’s largest city, Denver.
“We are here because we care about the future, about what we one day will leave after us,” Thunberg, clad in a cream-coloured jacket with her hair in her trademark braid, said to thunderous applause. “But, the political leaders can’t seem to think beyond the next election, and that needs to come to an end.”
Calls to action, condemnation of politicians and appeals to youth are all familiar rhetoric for Thunberg, whose activism against what some view as humanity’s most pressing problem made her an apparent frontrunner for the Peace Prize.
Earlier, the Norwegian judges instead selected Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for the award, citing his efforts to end two decades of conflict with Eritrea. A world away, Thunberg responded with a succinct “no” when asked if not winning had disappointed her. “Yeah, I’m very focused. This day was amazing,” she said.
Thunberg’s stop in Colorado came amid a highly publicised journey from her hometown of Stockholm in which she traversed the Atlantic on a zero-emission sailboat before making an appearance at a United Nations climate summit.
“How dare you?” she thundered at world leaders gathered in New York, accusing them of handing younger generations a world of rising seas and increasingly severe weather.
That refrain — emphatically repeated by Thunberg in her UN speech — could be seen on several cardboard signs carried by crowd members in Denver.
“She helped voice the opinions that I didn’t know how to word. She said everything that I’d been thinking,” said Dante Lanthier, 16, one of many high school students who attended the event.