Asperger's gave me unique perspective on climate crisis, says Greta Thunberg

Activist spoke before release of her new work, 'The Climate Book'

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg makes a speech on the Pyramid Stage stage during the Glastonbury Festival. Getty
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Being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome helped to shape Greta Thunberg's approach to the climate crisis, she said.

Ms Thunberg, 19, gained recognition at 15 when she began to spend her Fridays sitting outside the Swedish Parliament building calling for more serious action on climate change.

Asperger’s helped her to see through the politics of climate change, she said.

“They say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re not in line with the Paris Agreement so far, but at least we’re taking small steps in the right direction’,” Ms Thunberg said.

“Some people might see that as though we’re trying, but I see it as we’re so far away from what we need to be doing for even the bare minimum.”

The climate activist was speaking to Elle UK magazine about her campaign and the effect Asperger’s syndrome has had on her work.

Ms Thunberg took to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival this year to deliver a powerful speech on climate change.

In it, she called on society to take up its “historic responsibility to set things right” with the global climate crisis.

In a post on Instagram after the event, Glastonbury’s co-organiser Emily Eavis said it was an “honour” to have Ms Thunberg speak at the festival, describing her speech as “inspiring, powerful and important”.

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Ms Thunberg also suggested that society works to redefine what it means to be hopeful in the face of the climate crisis, saying “hope means taking action”.

“First thing is, hope for whom? Is it for us?” she asked. “People living in financially fortunate parts of the world who are very much to blame for the climate emergency — maybe not us individuals but us in this part of the world?

"Or hope for those who are actually being affected by the climate crisis?

“I don’t think hope is something that can be given to you. You have to create it yourself. Hope means taking action. I think that we need to redefine hope because it’s being used against us.

“If there is hope you don’t need to do anything, but that is the opposite of hope.”

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This month at the London Literature Festival, Ms Thunberg is set to launch her new work, The Climate Book, a collection of more than 100 contributions from figures such as economist Kate Raworth, writer and activist Naomi Klein and author Margaret Atwood.

“One of the key messages is, ‘Don’t listen to me, listen to the scientists, listen to the experts, listen to those who are most affected’," she said.

“I could talk about all these things but I am a privileged white person who lives in Sweden. I don’t really have any story to tell, so it’s up to others who need to be heard to [talk about] these things.”

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Updated: October 05, 2022, 11:17 PM