Greta Thunberg tells Yahoo News: Powerful men like Trump 'want to silence' young climate activists

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Teenage Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg believes that world leaders like President Trump have begun attacking the youth movement she has helped mobilize because they realize it is “making an impact,” she said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News.

“Something must have changed in the debate that so many young people are speaking up and so many young people are being targeted,” Thunberg told Yahoo News’ Kayla Jardine, in an interview that followed her appearance at Friday’s student rally in Iowa City, Iowa. “They can sense that we are making an impact. They obviously don't want that. So they are using several methods to mock and hate."

After Thunberg delivered an impassioned address at the United Nations climate summit that called out world leaders for their inaction, President Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax,” mocked the 16-year-old with a sarcastic tweet.

Russian President Vladimir Putin followed a week later, telling an energy forum in Moscow that “no one has explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and different.”

Following each slight, Thunberg altered her Twitter bio, first to read “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” and then “A kind but poorly informed teenager.”

“I changed it two times now to some of the criticism from very powerful people I have seen,” Thunberg told Yahoo News. “I just thought it would be funny. Why not?”

While she says she does not regret becoming a public figure in the fight against climate change, making herself a political target, she laments the fact that some people have attacked members of her family, including her younger sister.

“When they go after others, who are maybe younger,” Thunberg said. “When they go after my sister, who is, for example, 13 years old, I mean, that is hard.”

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