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Greta Thunberg's Dad: I Didn't Love Her Early School Strikes

Svante Thunberg says he and Greta's mom made lifestyle changes 'to save my child'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2019 7:59 AM CST

(Newser) – Greta Thunberg's dad is glad to see she's now "very happy" in her work fighting climate change—but the Swedish dad of two says the activist path wasn't one he initially wanted the teen to follow and that he was "not supportive" of her early school strikes. Svante Thunberg and his 16-year-old daughter were interviewed Monday for the BBC Radio 4 Today program, which was being guest-edited by Greta, and Thunberg admitted that before his oldest daughter started her strikes against global warming, she'd wrangled with depression for several years, to the point where she stopped talking, going to school, and even eating—the "ultimate nightmare for a parent." Thunberg says he and wife Malena Ernman, a Swedish opera singer, started adopting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle as Greta had become passionate about climate change and accused them of being "huge hypocrites."

Those lifestyle changes included a switch to a vegan diet for her father, as well as a decision by her mother to not travel by plane anymore. "I did all these things, I knew they were the right thing to do ... but I didn't do it to save the climate, I did it to save my child," the teen's father says. He adds that he's still concerned about all of the "fake news" and "hate" swirling around his daughter, but that Greta herself takes any criticism in stride. "Quite frankly, I don't know how she does it, but she laughs most of the time," he says. "She finds it hilarious." The New York Times notes that, in a bit of irony, the BBC actually caught flak for flying Today host Mishal Husain to Sweden to interview the Thunbergs, considering the teen's stance on air travel, but the show's editor tells the BBC that "we just did not have time for other means of transport." (Read more Greta Thunberg stories.)

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