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Greta Thunberg, the teen activist who has inspired millions to strike for action on climate change, doesn't want awards. She wants people to listen to science.
The 16-year-old Swede declined an environmental prize worth $52,000 the Nordic Council, a regional inter-parliamentary organization, awarded her.
"I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour. But the climate movement does not need any more awards," she wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday. "What we need is for our politicians and the people in power (to) start to listen to the current, best available science."
Thunberg, who is in California for the Youth Climate Strike in Los Angeles, also criticized Nordic countries, which "have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing."
The president of the Nordic Council, Hans Wallmark, said in a statement that he respected Thunberg's decision and that the council will think carefully about what to do with the prize money.
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The Nordic Council, which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland, hands out annual prizes for literature, youth literature, film, music and the environment, each worth 350,000 Danish kroner, or $52,000.
In Thunberg's place, two fellow climate activists, Sofia and Isabella Axelsson, spoke at a ceremony Tuesday in Stockholm and read a statement from Thunberg, saying "what we need is for our rulers and politicians to listen to the research."
Thunberg, who has won and declined other awards, rose to prominence after she began striking on Fridays, leaving school to stand in front of Sweden's parliament to protest inaction on climate change.
She was recently awarded the The Right Livelihood Award, but last year she declined the Children’s Climate Prize, awarded by a Swedish electricity company, because some of the finalists flew to the ceremony.
The teen activist sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States on a zero emissions sailboat. She has been a vocal critic of flying because it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate global warming.
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In September, she gave an impassioned speech before the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where she scolded world leaders for not acting quickly and decisively to combat climate change.
"This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here, I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean," she said.
"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?"
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Greta Thunberg declines Nordic Council environmental prize, money