TIME Names Greta Thunberg Person of the Year

The 16-year-old becomes the youngest person ever to earn the distinction

nobel nomination
Greta Thunberg, the founder of the Youth Strike for Climate movement, is the TIME person of the year. (Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg has been named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019, becoming the youngest person to receive the honor in its 92-year history.

“She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement,” TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said on the TODAY Show Wednesday morning (Dec. 11).

The Swedish 16-year-old was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize back in March. “She embodies youth activism,” Felsenthal said. “Her rise in influence has been really extraordinary. She was a solo protester with a hand-painted sign 14 months ago. She’s now led millions of people around the world, 150 countries, to act on behalf of the planet, and she’s really been a key driver this year taking this issue from backstage to center.”

TIME selected Thunberg from a short list of five candidates that also included the anonymous CIA whistleblower whose complaint led to impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, Trump himself, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong.

“[Thunberg] also represents a broader generational shift in the culture that we’re seeing from the campuses of Hong Kong to the protests in Chile to Parkland, Florida, where the students marched against gun violence, where young people are demanding change urgently,” Felsenthal added.

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