Climate activism has made Greta ‘very happy’, but I worry, says father

Climate activism has made Greta 'very happy', but I worry, says father
Svante Thunberg and his daughter sailed to a climate summit in New York on zero-carbon yacht. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times, London: The teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg’s father said, the climate activism made his daughter ‘happy’, but made him ‘worry’.

Svante Thunberg revealed he thought it was a ‘bad idea’ for Greta to take to the ‘front line’ of the battle against climate change. He also acknowledged that he was not supportive at the early days of his daughter’s climate activism.

Speaking to the BBC to mark his daughter’s guest-editing slot on the Today programme, Svante Thunberg reveals how activism had changed Greta, who suffered from depression for ‘three or four years’ before she began her climate protest outside of Swedish Parliament.

Fighting with depressions

‘Greta began refusing to eat, and it was an ultimate nightmare for a parent’, Svante said, ‘She stopped talking … she stopped going to school’.

Four years ago, Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s – a form of autism, something she has said allows her to ‘see things from outside the box’.

These conditions made her parents conscious. Svante, an actor and his wife the opera singer Malena Ernman took a break from their regular life to spend more time with family in order to help Greta overcome her depression.

The two started discussing and researching climate change, with Greta becoming increasingly passionate about tackling the issue. Greta gets ‘energy’ from her parents’ changes in behaviour to become more environmentally friendly – such as her mother choosing not to travel by aeroplane and her father becoming vegan.

‘I did all these things, I knew they were the right thing to do … but I didn’t do it to save the climate, I did it to save my child,’ Svante Thunberg said. ‘I have two daughters, and to be honest, they are all that matters to me. I just want them to be happy’.

The 16-year-old Greta inspires millions of people across the globe to take the climate seriously. But Mr Thunberg said he worries about the ‘hate’ she faces.

He said he was particularly worried about ‘the fake news, all the things that people try to fabricate her – the hate that that generates’, but he added that his daughter dealt with it ‘incredibly well’.

Greta Thunberg with Today programme host Mishal Hussain in Stockholm as she worked on her guest editing role. Photograph: BBC/PA

‘Quite frankly, I don’t know how she does it, but she laughs most of the time. She finds it hilarious’, he added.

The Today programme also featured a discussion between Greta Thunberg and the veteran naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Sir Attenborough told her she had ‘woken up the world’ to climate change.

He added that Greta was the ‘only reason’ that climate change became a key topic in the recent UK general election. Greta joined via Skype from Sweden told him how he inspired her activism.