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Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gets Amnesty prize

By AFP - Jun 09,2019 - Last updated at Jun 09,2019

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (centre) and Belgian students gather to call for urgent measures to combat climate change during a demonstration in Brussels, Belgium, on February 21(AFP photo)

STOCKHOLM — Sweden's teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg was on Friday awarded a prestigious Amnesty International prize for mobilising world public opinion on the looming peril of global warming.

The 16-year-old issued a statement declaring it "a huge honour to receive Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award", saying it was recognition for everybody inspired by her "Fridays for Future" movement that has seen students strike from school to take part in climate protests.

"To act on your conscience means that you fight for what you think is right", she said.

To AFPTV, she said "it's amazing to get recognition like this".

Thunberg, a fierce campaigner with a gift for public speaking, has become a figurehead for young climate activists internationally. International organisations often invite her to climate change events in an effort to put a human face on the fight to curb carbon emissions.

Last week, she appeared alongside actor and former politician Arnold Schwarzenegger at a conference in Austria discussing ways to tackle climate change.

The head of Amnesty International, v Naidoo, lauded Thunberg's work in a statement announcing the prize from his organisation.

"Every young person taking part in 'Fridays for Future' embodies what it means to act on your conscience. They remind us that we are more powerful than we know and that we all have a role to play in protecting human rights against climate catastrophe," he said.

Thunberg has announced she is taking a year off school to pursue her campaigning. 

Her agenda includes a UN climate change summit in September and a UN climate conference in Chile in December that both pose a quandary for Thunberg, who eschews air travel because of the carbon footprint it leaves.

"I have decided that I am going to try to take a sabbatical year from school and try to travel to different places, among others to north and south America, where I have received invitations to attend several meetings and summits — so I will have to try to go there without flying if that is possible," she told AFPTV.

"It is across the Atlantic Ocean and I don't fly because of climate reasons so I will have to do it in another way... I don't know, we will see [how]," she said.

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