Greta Thunberg has been named Time's Person of the Year for 2019. The 16-year-old climate activist is the youngest person ever to receive the honor.
“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” Thunberg, 16, told the magazine as she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the UN Climate Conference in Madrid this month.
Scientists warn that without significant action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the world's temperature will hit 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, resulting in "increasingly severe and extreme weather events" that bring with them "unprecedented human and socioeconomic costs," according to the UN.
"It is our decision: to go down with this ship or to change course immediately," Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the president of the UN General Assembly, said during the conference in Madrid. "This is the time to act."
Thunberg started her environmental activism in August 2018 by skipping school to camp outside Sweden's parliament with a simple sign reading, "School Strike for Climate."
Since then, Thunberg has become the voice of a generation, speaking before world leaders at the UN in New York, meeting Pope Francis and taking on President Donald Trump. She also helped lead a global climate strike on September 20 that saw more than 4 million people take to the streets to demand action on climate change.
On Dec. 6, during the UN Climate Conference, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again in Madrid.
"The change is going to come from the people demanding action," Thunberg told protesters. "And that is us."