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Climate activist Greta Thunberg told a World Economic Forum panel that activists were demanding an end to all investment in fossil fuel exploration.

USA TODAY

Greta Thunberg had two wishes for her 18th birthday on Sunday.

The first was a “promise from everyone that they will do everything they can” for the planet, she said in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times.

She had another, more tangible gift: Replacement headlights for her bike.

“In Sweden, it gets very dark in the winter,” she said.

The climate activist, who is from Sweden, also took to Twitter to celebrate her birthday with a jab at climate change conspiracy theorists.

“Thank you so much for all the well-wishes on my 18th birthday!” she said. “Tonight you will find me down at the local pub exposing all the dark secrets behind the climate- and school strike conspiracy and my evil handlers who can no longer control me! I am free at last!!”

Other interview highlights:

  • On celebrities who talk about the climate emergency while flying around the world: “I don’t care. I’m not telling anyone else what to do, but there is a risk when you are vocal about these things and don’t practise as you preach, then you will become criticised for that and what you are saying won’t be taken seriously.”
  • What’s not on her birthday list: New clothes. ” I don’t need new clothes. I know people who have clothes, so I would ask them if I could borrow them or if they have something they don’t need any more. I don’t need to fly to Thailand to be happy. I don’t need to buy clothes I don’t need, so I don’t see it as a sacrifice.”
  • Though the biggest way to slow carbon emissions is to not have children,  Thunberg was not about to tell people not to do so. “I don’t think it’s selfish to have children,” she said. “It is not the people who are the problem, it is our behavior.”
  • Her concern for the environment isn’t paralyzing: “I don’t sit and speculate about how the future might turn out, I see no use in doing that,” she said. “As long as you are doing everything you can now, you can’t let yourself become depressed or anxious.”

The activist, known for her wit, has become a symbol for young people across the world protesting climate change inaction.

Thunberg burst onto the global stage with #FridaysForFuture, an international movement that began in 2018. Thunberg, then 15, started taking weeks off school to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament. 

At 16, Thunberg inspired the largest climate strike in history, testified before Congress and addressed the United Nations for the second time.

“People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing … and all you talk about is money and eternal fairy tales of economic growth. How dare you?” she said before the UN.

Also in 2019, Time magazine named her as its 2019 Person of the Year 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 background and borders” and “for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads.” 

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg protests during a “Fridays for Future” demonstration in front of the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm on Oct. 9, 2020. (Photo: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND, AFP via Getty Images)

She’s also gone up against world leaders on frequent occasions: Russian President Vladimir Putin called her “a kind and very sincere girl” who doesn’t understand the complexities of “the modern world,” and Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro labeled her a “brat.”

She has most famously clashed with President Donald Trump on multiple occasions.

After Thunberg delivered her emotional speech to world leaders at the UN, news cameras captured her staring at President Donald Trump when he arrived in the same lobby.

Trump tweeted after her speech that Thunberg “seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

Greta Thunberg won $1.15M. She’s donating it all to environmental groups.

Trump also criticized Thunberg after Time’s decision to recognize her in 2019.

“So ridiculous. Greta must work on his Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill, Greta, Chill!” he tweeted.

Thunberg copied his exact phrasing in her reply to Trump’s November 2020 tweetstorm calling for states to “stop the count” in the November election.

She also endorsed President-Elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to return the U.S. to the Paris climate accord.

During the interview with the Times, Thunberg addressed Biden’s pledge, cautioning that “just because of that shift we shouldn’t be relaxing and thinking everything is all right now.”

“Of course it will mean a change, mainly because it is one and not the other in charge,” she said.

Contributing: Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY

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