Greta Thunberg has said it’s “weird” when “heterosexual, cis, white privileged middle-aged men” are threatened by children “just stating the facts” about climate change.
The teenage climate activist added that when “they feel like they must send some kind of letter or just kind of vent online… it’s very weird.”
Thunberg was talking to comedian Russell Howard on his show The Russell Howard Hour on Sky Max.
In recent years, figures such as Donald Trump and former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, have criticised the Swede over her activism and climate views, often taking aim at her publicly on social media.
She told Howard that the attention often gives her memes and jokes to use online instead, saying: “I can just go in there and just have free meme material… I share it with my friends, and then I take credit for it.”
Thunberg spoke to Howard about a wide range of issues, but mostly her climate activism and her new book The Climate Book – of which the royalties will go to charity.
While regularly seen as the global face of the fight against climate change, Thunberg explained to Howard how those who are directly affected by the crisis should be afforded more time to speak about it.
“I feel that [some activism stories dominating the climate crisis conversations] are kind of misleading because the ones who are really leading this fight are the ones living on the frontline,” she told the comedian.
“It is mainly indigenous people, indigenous communities, people living in the most affected areas who are in many cases risking their lives and their freedom in order to protest against this.
“Of course, people need to take action, but we need to centre those on the front line.
“It’s time to decolonise the climate movement and pass over the mic to those who have stories to tell.”
Howard also admitted he felt “helpless” about the climate situation, with Thunberg replying that even having the option to do something to help, no matter how small, is a privilege not afforded to other communities.
Thunberg also talked about the pressures of speaking to the whole world about climate change, particularly after overcoming selective mutism.
“I had selective mutism, I couldn’t speak to people other than my parents, my sister, and one of my teachers, and going from that to trying to speak to the whole world is different,” she said.
“It was stepping out of my comfort zone, but then I thought ‘well we’re in an existential crisis, people are dying, the least I can do is step out of my comfort zone and do a few interviews’.”
The Russell Howard Hour is on Sky Max on Thursday night at 10.30pm – and afterwards on Sky and Now.