Named one of PEOPLE's 25 Women Changing the World, the 16-year-old likes reading, hanging with her family and playing with her dogs, Moses and Roxy

By KC Baker
October 11, 2019 04:45 PM
Greta Thunberg
Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance/Getty

Greta Thunberg is just like any other teen when she’s not saving the planet.

Named one of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World 2019, the Swedish student-turned-climate activist is leading millions around the globe to strike and urge world leaders and CEOs to take immediate steps to lower carbon emissions to prevent the most catastrophic effects of an overheating planet.

While Thunberg has become a powerhouse in the climate world (and criticized by the likes of President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin) she is, after all, just 16.

“I have many, many hobbies, and interests,” she tells PEOPLE. “But I have had to put them aside for now.”

Greta Thunberg and her family
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Since August, she has been on sabbatical from school, traveling the world to raise awareness about the urgent need to take action against climate change.

While she’s traveling, she says, “I read and I go for walks. When I’m home, then I am with my dogs – Moses and Roxy.”

She misses them a lot – as well as “my sister, my family – everything at home.”

She has willingly given up the comforts of home to do everything she can to ensure that she and other young people in her generation aren’t faced with insurmountable problems caused by a warming planet including food and water shortages, rampant disease and millions of refugees displaced by uninhabitable land who need a place to live.

RELATED: Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Blasts World Leaders at the U.N. — ‘How Dare You!’

“I have a lot of people listening to what I am saying, so I am using that platform to try to achieve a change,” she says.

“I think it’s very hopeful, all the young people who are a part of the climate change movement,” she says. “That keeps me going, to see that it actually has made a difference.”

She keeps going, she says, “Because there is no second option. I want to make sure that the people in power know that this is something they cannot continue to ignore.”

For much more on PEOPLE’s Women Changing the World 2019, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

She has done that – and more.

In March she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and would have been the youngest to collect the award had she won. (Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali won the prize on Friday for his efforts to resolve conflict with bordering nation Eritrea.)

In May, she graced the cover of Time magazine, who named her one of the next generation of “trailblazers” shaping the world.

In August, she sailed across the Atlantic from England on a zero-emissions sailboat (she doesn’t fly to reduce her carbon footprint) to come to the U.S.

During her time on the East Coast, she testified before Congress, urging them on Sept. 18 to “listen to scientists” and do more to become the global leader in tackling the climate crisis.

On Sept. 20, she led four million people in more than 150 countries worldwide in the biggest climate strike in history.

Three days later, she gave an emotional and impassioned speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, telling delegates and world leaders they need to act now to prevent more disastrous hurricanes, wildfires, flooding and drought – not just for their sakes but for future generations.

Undaunted by the massive criticism thrown at her from everyone from President Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin, she is touring North America.

She will eventually head to South America, making her way to Chile for a UN climate change conference in December.

She says she will not stop crusading for a better world until the problem is solved.

If we don’t do something about it now, she says, “It will only get worse. My hope is that we can fix it in time.”

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