Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has declined an award meant to honor the teenager for her work to save the environment, claiming that she does not want to be showered with recognition but simply for world leaders to open their eyes.
Thunberg, 16, was given the environment award by the Nordic Council on Tuesday, but did not accept, and sent two spokeswomen in her place to speak on her behalf.
“I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honor,” they said in a statement that Thunberg later shared to Instagram. “But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to listen to the current, best available science.”
Thunberg, who said she was traveling in California and therefore unable to give the speech herself, criticized Nordic countries for their carbon emissions footprints, and accused governments of ��basically do[ing] nothing” to help.
“The gap between what the science says is needed to limit the increase of global temperature rise … and politics that run the Nordic countries is gigantic. We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most,” she said. “And yet our countries still basically do nothing. So until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed … I … choose not to accept the Nordic Council’s environment award nor the prize money of [$51,500].”
The Nordic Council awards five prizes each year in literature, film, music, children’s literature, and the environment.
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The council said Thunberg was this year’s environment recipient for “breathing new life into the debate surrounding the environment and climate at a critical moment in world history. Furthermore, she has inspired millions of people around the world to demand concrete action from our politicians.”
Thunberg’s solo school-day strike outside the Swedish parliament went viral in August 2018, inspiring hundreds of similar climate strikes around the world as part of her Fridays for Future campaign, as well as prominent speaking engagements before world leaders.
Though nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize are kept secret and not revealed until 50 years have passed, news of Thunberg’s nomination for the prestigious award was reported in March after three Norwegian lawmakers said they’d be giving their vote to the teen activist. However, she lost to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, who was recognized for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement earlier in October.
“I think most people are still very unaware of how big this crisis is,” Thunberg recently told PEOPLE. “Right now, I have a lot of people listening to what I am saying, so I am using the platform to try to achieve a change.”