Recently, we all heard Greta's emotional speech about climate and world problems. I was a bit surprised, how that small girl could climb so high - into UN tribune. Then I opened Wikipedia, but didn't find anything about its support from big funds/millionaries/something other. I heard that her family supports her, but I wonder, if that is enough to climb into UN?

Question is, does there exist some big fund/billionare/politics who stands above Greta? If no, then it's very impressive way - from school to UN tribune.

Small PS

Please, understand me in a right way. I'm not criticizing ecological ideas at all - ecology is good, isn't it? But such an impressive way and media campaign are just a bit surprising for me.

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    This question comes across as a bit conspiratorial in tone, with its focus on funding, but of course there is a wider movement which was happy to adopt her as a mascot. Greta has Aspergers', which makes her more "driven" than many people. – Fizz Sep 24 '19 at 8:54
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    Comments deleted. Please don't use comments to answer the question. If you would like to answer, please post a real answer which adheres to our quality standards. If you do, please also be critical of your sources. While I did some cursory research on the topic I stumbled upon a lot of baseless speculation from conspiracy theorists. – Philipp Sep 24 '19 at 9:38
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    Why do you assume that "support from big funds/millionaries/something" is at all necessary? What specifically makes you think that Greta Thunberg's activities require any funding beyond what her family provides? Have you, for example, researched what you call "climb into UN" and found out that it requires a significant amount of funds? – yannis Sep 24 '19 at 10:40
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    Because, I don't think, that abstract schoolgirl can climb into UN tribune just with her wish. Like, for example, Bill Gates. He is a genius, no doubt. But he had accepted a little help - his grandma working in IBM. And such hating with downvotes shows, that it is a really interesting question – user2501323 Sep 24 '19 at 10:43
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    @FrankCedeno I think the poor response comes from the fact that the asker seems to be referencing a popular right-wing conspiracy theory/smear campaign that claims she is a puppet of a shadowy pro-environment cabal. I have no idea if that's actually that's what they're actually trying to do, but I would bet money that that's the perception of this question from the downvoters. – divibisan Sep 24 '19 at 21:34

It depends by what you mean by "acts alone". You seem rather unaware of the level of moral support she and the broader school-strikes-for-climate movement has received:

On 31 January 2019, more than 3400 scientists and academics signed an open letter in support of the school strikes in Belgium.[97] The letter reads "On the basis of the facts supplied by climate science, the campaigners are right. That is why we, as scientists, support them."[98] This was followed by an open letter in support of the school strikes in the Netherlands, signed by 340 scientists,[99] and by 1200 researchers in Finland signing a letter, on 11 March 2019, supporting the strikes.[100] An article published in Nature in March 2019 listed many other expressions of support, and no criticisms, from scientists, with comments such as "The idea of a climate strike is innovative. It’s provocative, and I think it’s the right form of non-violent civil disobedience".[96]

In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland a group of scientists founded Scientists for Future (S4F) in support of the factual correctness of the claims formulated by the movement.[101][102][103][104] The statement was signed by over 26000 German-language scientists and scholars.[105]

On 14 March 2019, the Club of Rome issued an official statement in support of Thunberg and the strikes, urging governments across the world to respond to this call for action and cut global carbon emissions.[106]

In early April 2019, a letter titled "Concerns of young protesters are justified" was published in Science. The letter declared that the climate strikers' concerns are "justified and supported by the best available science" and was signed by over 3000 scientists worldwide.[107]

In June 2019, 1000 healthcare professionals in the UK and elsewhere, including professors, eminent public health figures, and former presidents of royal colleges, called for widespread non-violent civil disobedience in response to "woefully inadequate" government policies on the unfolding ecological emergency. They called on politicians and the news media to face the facts of the unfolding ecological emergency and take action. They supported the school strike movement and Extinction Rebellion.[108]

If I am to speculate (and be a little cynical), Greta becoming a center figure is fairly easily explained by a number of factors:

  • Lack of any other international "eco warrior" figure of a comparable age. Sure, politicians like Al Gore have championed action on climate change before (he even got a Nobel Prize in 2007 for that), but can you name someone else in Greta's age bracket? (Sure a few other names became recognizable in the aftermath of the school strikes movement, but there is that "founder effect".)

  • She speaks good English, which gives her access to an international audience. She is also quite articulate in her speeches.

  • Her determination and steadfastness. It results in interesting enough news pieces like on her travel choices, her influence on her family, e.g.

Unlike most global figures, Thunberg doesn’t have a staff; her parents do what they can to maintain a sense of normalcy for her and her 13-year-old sister, Beata, though Svante no longer answers the phone unless it’s a trusted contact.

Meantime, there is a Greta effect within the home too. Svante and Thunberg’s mother Malena Ernman have given up meat, installed solar panels on their home and stopped traveling by air—decisions they made because they tired of arguments with their stubborn daughter, Svante likes to joke. It’s been a major shift for Malena, an opera singer who no longer flies abroad to performances. “Once she realized the consequences of that lifestyle, she was easy to convince,” Thunberg says, sounding more like a parent than a child.

  • There is a level of fascination with her in the media because of her atypical personality. Even when she was attacked for that (by detractors), it created even more media coverage when the detractors were criticized etc.

  • Success breeds success. Her UN speech was hardly the first in front of an audience like that. She also spoke in front of some national assemblies (at least the French one and the UK one) and the EU Parliament.

  • Her family is reasonably well-off. Her father (a former actor and now a writer) can travel with her, etc.

Accusations that she is paid have been levelled before,

Since she came to prominence, Thunberg has been the target of negativity, trolling and even threats. Right-wing commentators and climate-change deniers have called her a “PR puppet” who is paid by a global network of billionaires to spread a “left-liberal” message.

But insofar these have been proven nothing more than a canard. The wider school strike movement was also the subject of similarly unsubstantiated claims:

A Belgian environment minister has been forced to resign after falsely claiming the country’s intelligence services held evidence that children skipping school to demonstrate over climate change were being directed by unnamed powers.

Joke Schauvliege, a minister in Flanders, where the school-strikes movement first emerged, provoked a wave of criticism of the wider political class after suggesting the protests were a “set-up” and “more than spontaneous actions of solidarity”.

“I know who is behind this movement, both of the Sunday demonstrations and the truants,” Schauvliege had told an audience of farmers. “I have also been told that from state security. I can guarantee that I do not see ghosts alone and that climate demonstrations are more than spontaneous actions of solidarity with our climate.”

The comments prompted a rare denial by the Belgian state security services. “We have not reported anything about this to Schauvliege,” they said. “Neither verbally nor in writing.”

Schauvliege resigned in the aftermath.

There is a less palatable aspect to Greta's rise, which does involve a businessman. As she writes:

On August 20, 2018 I sat down outside the Swedish Parliament. I handed out fliers with a long list of facts about the climate crisis and explanations on why I was striking. The first thing I did was to post on Twitter and Instagram what I was doing and it soon went viral. Then journalists and newspapers started to come.

A Swedish entrepreneur and business man active in the climate movement, Ingmar Rentzhog, was among the first to arrive. He spoke with me and took pictures that he posted on Facebook. That was the first time I had ever met or spoken with him. I had not communicated or encountered with him ever before.

Many people love to spread rumors saying that I have people “behind me” or that I’m being “paid” or “used” to do what I’m doing. But there is no one “behind” me except for myself. My parents were as far from climate activists as possible before I made them aware of the situation.

I am not part of any organization. I sometimes support and cooperate with several NGOs that work with the climate and environment. But I am absolutely independent and I only represent myself. And I do what I do completely for free, I have not received any money or any promise of future payments in any form at all. And nor has anyone linked to me or my family done so.

Apparently Rentzhog was looking to profit from Greta's fame. Wikipedia says:

In late 2018, Ingmar Rentzhog, who claims to be one of the first to publicize Thunberg's climate strike, asked her to become an unpaid youth advisor to his climate startup company. He then used her name and image without her knowledge or permission to raise millions for a WDHT for-profit subsidiary, We Don't Have Time AB, of which Rentzhog is the chief executive officer.[103] Thunberg received no money from the company.[27] She terminated her volunteer advisor role with WDHT once she realised they were making money from her name, stating "[I am] not part of any organization… am absolutely independent… [and] do what I do completely for free."[104]

Rentzhog has been unapologetic about his approach.

Finally, Thunberg's family did write a book about their experiences with the sudden fame, but apparently all money from that is going to charities; Greta writes

Before the book was released my parents made it clear that their possible profits from the book ”Scener ur hjärtat” will be going to 8 different charities working with environment, children with diagnoses and animal rights.

  • Really big answer, @Fizz. I don't trying to oppose your arguments, but is it, in your opinion, logical, to expect supporting such persons by people/parties, who, for example, support the Green New Deal? Isn't it? I don't want to blame on it, really, but I don't understand, why it is so aggressively opposed, as it is fully legal - such support - if it is really exists. – user2501323 Sep 24 '19 at 15:57
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    @user2501323: The Green parties in the EU are apparently very happy with Greta being in the news. That and the threat of Brexit has given them a boost in various elections. That doesn't mean they fund her. – Fizz Sep 24 '19 at 16:06
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    @user2501323 At least in Europe, parties don’t have money to fund people in that way. Lobbyist groups for sure, but European political parties have access to far fewer funds and no constructs comparable to Super-PACs when compared to US parties. I say that as a party member. – Jan Sep 24 '19 at 16:54

Greta Thunberg's rise to fame is because she is VERY driven in her conviction to combat climate change. She has autism and as such can have a laser focus on her passions.

You seem to have missed in the Wikipedia article that Greta started with an essay at school. That essay was published in a major Swedish newspaper, and she was then contacted by a Swedish group interested in doing something about climate change. At a meeting, she got the suggestion to follow the example set by a number of US children after yet another school shooting, and go on school strike. She posted about it on social media, got noticed by a number of local journalists, and those articles then got international recognition. From there it snowballed into international school strike movements, often with local figureheads (like for example Anuna de Wever in Belgium).

All in all, this is a clear example of what's known as a "grassroots movement", an attempt of a small community of people to make major economic and/or political change. What you claim is that this movement is instead caused by astroturfing. That's not the case.

  • My claim is that, maybe, someone helps this movement. I'm just generally doubt nearly all "grassroots movements" and "no-leader protests". You may disagree, but lack of public unique leader does not automatically mean that it does not exists.) – user2501323 Sep 24 '19 at 12:03
  • And, in fact, question was about DOES ANYONE. If you don't have find something, you may just notice, that no, there is no known people above. – user2501323 Sep 24 '19 at 12:04
  • @user2501323 Not every movement needs a commanding leader with power over everyone in the movement. The Fridays for Future movement Greta started is in fact not a single movement, but thousands of smaller movements spread all over the world that have followed her example. In that respect, Greta and the movements she started can be seen as a secular form of a prophet and a religion: a single person with a powerful message and a large amount of people around the world who believe in that message and want to help it become reality. – Nzall Sep 24 '19 at 12:13
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    @user2501323 there are no such people who help her, that's what I'm talking about and you seem to fail to understand. You seem to think that every single grassroots movement is in fact an astroturfing by a corporation and as such not credible. The world doesn't work like that. You having a flawed vision of the world just means you don't understand the world, not that there is some sort of grand conspiracy behind every single common people movement. – Nzall Sep 24 '19 at 12:27
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    @user2501323 While the comparison of Thunberg and a prophet does have its merits, the FFF movement but most particularly Thunberg herself is quite the opposite of what you imply: all science, no faith (except for faith in science). – Jan Sep 24 '19 at 16:49

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