The torch-bearer for a new generation of climate campaigners, Greta Thunberg was a baby-faced 15-year-old when she led a protest movement by skipping school a day a week.

On Friday she said her days of playing truant for the environment were over after she graduated from high school, while vowing to continue protesting on a weekly basis.

AFP looks back at some of the standout moments in her five years of activism:

- Skipping school -

In the beginning -- 2018 -- was a diminutive teen with long plaits, sitting in protest outside the Swedish parliament every Friday with her "School Strike for the Climate" sign.

Within a few months Greta Thunberg had come to the attention of the world's media, and her protest had inspired students from Berlin to Sydney and San Francisco to skip class each Friday to demand environmental action from global leaders.

- Slow boat -

In 2019, she captured the world's attention with her decision to travel to a UN climate summit in New York on a sailboat instead of by plane.

Thunberg refused to fly because of the carbon emissions caused by flying and grabbed a lift instead on the Malizia II racing yacht.


The Malizia II, a zero-carbon yacht, with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, arrives in the US after a 15-day journey crossing the Atlantic in on August 28, 2019 in New York. / © AFP

Eyebrows were raised however after it emerged that several people would fly into New York to help take the yacht back to Europe.

Team Malizia assured that Thunberg's voyage was carbon-neutral.

- 'How dare you' -

What Thunberg did at the UN summit became legend, as she took to the stage to lambast world leaders about their climate inaction, eyes filled with tears.

"How dare you?" she thundered.


People and students hold placards and a banner showing 16-year-old Swedish political activist Greta Thunberg, who seeks to stop global warming and climate change, as they take part in a protest against global warming in central Rome on March 15, 2019. / © AFP

"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."

Among those seated nearby was then US president Donald Trump, a staunch climate change sceptic.

A few months later Thunberg was named Time magazine's Person of the Year.

- Davos duel -

In 2020, Thunberg found herself sharing the billing at the annual World Economic Forum of business and political elites with Trump.


US President Donald Trump addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, on January 21, 2020. Greta Thunberg listens silently in the audience / © AFP

Those hoping for an epic David-versus-Goliath takedown in Davos were left disappointed but they sparred nonetheless in their respective speeches.

Thunberg was in the audience to hear Trump castigate climate "perennial prophets of doom".

She later declared that the assembled leaders had "completely ignored" the climate crisis and went off to join a local "Fridays for Future" protest.

- Last laugh -

Being dressed down by a girl did not sit well with some of the world's strongmen, who delighted in bashing her.

But Thunberg often had the last laugh.

When Trump declared in December 2019 that she had an "anger management problem" and should go to "a good old fashioned movie with a friend" and "chill", Thunberg rewrote her Twitter bio to say she was "a teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend".

Twitter also proved effective against Andrew Tate, a US-British former kickboxing champion and misogynist influencer who trolled her in December 2022 about the "enormous emissions" of his fast car collection.

Thunberg's withering response, urging him to write to her at "", was retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.

- No budging -

In January 2023, a new-look, black-clad Thunberg was back in the headlines after a period of relative quiet when she was filmed being carried away by German police from a protest against a controversial coal mine.


German police officers on January 17, 2023 carry Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) away from a protest over the planned demolition of the abandoned western town of Luetzerath to make way for the expansion of an open-cast coal mine / © dpa/AFP

Thunberg, now aged 20, spent several days in Germany to support mass protests against the demolition of the abandoned village of Luetzerath to make way for the expansion of an open-cast mine.

"Climate protection is not a crime," she tweeted after her brief detention.