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Greta Thunberg wins "alternative Nobel Prize" for climate change activism

Greta Thunberg scolds world leaders at U.N.
Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg scolds world leaders at the United Nations 01:17

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, and three others have been named winners of the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, which is known as the "alternative Nobel Prize."

The Right Livelihood Foundation said in a statement Wednesday that Thunberg won the award "for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts." The award comes with a cash award of 1 million Swedish crowns ($103,000).

"I'm deeply grateful for being one of the recipients of this great honor," Thunberg said in a statement. "But of course, whenever I receive an award, it is not me who is the winner. I am part of a global movement of school children, youth and adults of all ages who have decided to act in defense of our living planet. I share this award with them."

Thunberg started weekly school protests outside Swedish parliament a year ago before it snowballed into a worldwide movement. The award comes days after she gave a fiery speech directed at world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit.

"People are dying and dying ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is the money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth," she said Monday, as she fought back tears. "How dare you!"

The other winners of the award were Brazilian indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa, Chinese women's rights lawyer Guo Jianmei and Western Sahara human rights defender Aminatou Haidar.

Thunberg is also among the 301 candidates nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The winner will be announced in the first week of October. 

According to the Nobel Prize organization, any national member of government can nominate an individual for the heralded peace award. Freddy André Ovstegard and two other Norwegian lawmakers chose Thunberg because of her leadership in the fight against climate change. 

If Thunberg wins the Nobel Peace Prize, she would be the youngest recipient since Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 years old when she received the prize.   

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