Greta Thunberg goes on trial over Swedish climate protest

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a climate demonstration called by youth-led organization Auroras before submitting its lawsuit against the state for their lack of climate work, in Stockholm on 25 November, 2022.AFP

Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg is set to go on trial on Monday charged with disobeying police at a rally last month, in which activists blocked the port in the city of Malmo.

She is due to appear before the court in the southern Swedish city at 0930 GMT.

The 20-year-old activist “took part in a demonstration that disrupted traffic” and “refused to obey police orders to leave the site”, according to the charge sheet seen by AFP.

She faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison, but prosecutor Charlotte Ottosen told AFP that usually these types of charges result in fines.

The rally, organised by environmental activist group “Ta tillbaka framtiden” (Reclaim the Future), tried to block the entrance and exit to the Malmo harbour to protest against the use of fossil fuel.

“We choose to not be bystanders, and instead physically stop the fossil fuel infrastructure. We are reclaiming the future,” Thunberg said in an Instagram post at the time.

Thunberg shot to global fame after starting her “School Strike for the Climate” in front of Sweden’s parliament in Stockholm at the age of 15.

She and a small band of youths founded the Fridays for Future movement, which quickly became a global phenomenon.

In addition to her climate strikes, the young activist regularly lambasts governments and politicians for not properly addressing climate issues.

Thunberg simply responded “no comment” to police questions regarding the Malmo rally, according to a preliminary transcript seen by AFP.

‘Burning our lives’

Reclaim the Future insists that despite the legal pressures, it remains unbowed in its determination to stand up to the fossil fuels industry.

“If the court chooses to see our action as a crime it may do so, but we know we have the right to live and the fossil fuels industry stands in the way of that,” group spokesperson Irma Kjellstrom told AFP.

Six members of the organisation would be appearing in court in Malmo, she said.

“We young people are not going to wait but will do what we can to stop this industry which is burning our lives,” she said, explaining the group’s plans for continuing civil disobedience.