Today, TIME names Greta Thunberg the 2019 Person of the Year.
TIME Editor-in-Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal said, "Meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earth's existential crisis found one in Greta Thunberg…. Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet—and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington…. this was the year the climate crisis went from behind the curtain to center stage, from ambient political noise to squarely on the world's agenda, and no one did more to make that happen than Thunberg…. For sounding the alarm about humanity's predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is TIME's 2019 Person of the Year."
Greta Thunberg, 16, is the youngest individual ever to be named Person of the Year. Felsenthal writes: "That Thunberg is the youngest individual ever named TIME's Person of the Year says as much about the moment as it does about her…. in this moment when so many traditional institutions seem to be failing us, amid staggering inequality and social upheaval and political paralysis, we are seeing new kinds of influence take hold. It is wielded by people like Thunberg, leaders with a cause and a phone who don't fit the old rubrics but who connect with us in ways that institutions can't and perhaps never could."
In the cover story, TIME's Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes, and Justin Worland write, "For decades, researchers and activists have struggled to get world leaders to take the climate threat seriously. But this year, an unlikely teenager somehow got the world's attention…. Thunberg is not a leader of any political party or advocacy group. She is neither the first to sound the alarm about the climate crisis nor the most qualified to fix it. She is not a scientist or a politician. She has no access to traditional levers of influence: she's not a billionaire or a princess, a pop star or even an adult. She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation. By clarifying an abstract danger with piercing outrage, Thunberg became the most compelling voice on the most important issue facing the planet."