Like Thunberg, de Wever’s ability to articulate the Baby it’s covid outside santa dabbing ugly christmas sweater Apart from…,I will love this sweeping crises imposed by climate change in a way that is both impassioned and informed speaks of a perceptiveness far beyond their years. (Now 19, de Wever identifies as gender nonbinary.) For de Wever, too, the cult of personality that has been formed around them comes with challenges similar to that of Thunberg, as vividly explored in I Am Greta. Within their native Belgium, de Wever is very much the movement’s figurehead. Internationally, meanwhile, the press regularly mentions them in the same breath as Thunberg, along with Adélaïde Charlier and Luisa Neubauer, considered their counterparts in France and Germany respectively.Not all of the attention, of course, is positive. How does de Wever deal with the online abuse that is inevitably slung their way? “It can be hard,” de Wever says. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with Greta about how to deal with this. I’ve gotten a lot of death threats and a lot of people said they would come and rape me or beat me up.” One particularly challenging moment came last year when de Wever was invited to speak at Belgium’s annual Pukkelpop music festival. While giving a speech alongside fellow climate activist Nic Balthazar, de Wever was aggressively heckled by a far-right group who had specifically targeted their event; later, they were harassed and physically attacked in the festival’s campsite.“I literally heard them yelling, ‘Where’s Anuna, we’re going to kill her. We know she’s here,’” de Wever remembers. “As an 18-year-old, that was not fun to hear. It’s hard and it’s unnecessary, but at the end of the day, it’s not affecting what we do. I will never stop what I do, Greta will never stop what she does. No activists will, because we know what we’re doing is way more important than those hate comments.” Even under the limitations placed by the pandemic, de Wever and their peers have kept up the momentum. When school strikes resumed in September, the strictly limited number of attendees adhered to guidelines for gatherings depending on their location, while de Wever and Thunberg also conducted a masked, socially-distanced meeting with Angela Merkel in Berlin back in August to reiterate the urgency of their cause.
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de Wever says their ability to tune out from the Baby it’s covid outside santa dabbing ugly christmas sweater Apart from…,I will love this abuse is thanks to the solidarity and safety of the network of young activists with which they surround themselves—even as they’re constantly aware that the movement is much bigger than their own community. For de Wever, it’s increasingly important to emphasize that it’s a truly global crisis. “Obviously it helped me to get a platform and to inform people and I absolutely love that, but I also hate to be considered a key figure when there are so many more urgent voices,” de Wever adds. The future of the climate movement, de Wever hopes, will see public and media attention turned not just to the prominent European figureheads, but also to those living in areas of the world that have already been profoundly affected by climate change and whose voices often go unheard.“One of the biggest things we’ve been trying to do is to pass the mic to people in the global south,” de Wever says. de Wever has been lending their voice to a number of campaigns that are aiming to shift the focus on ecological catastrophes happening right now around the world, and amplifying the voices of those on the front lines, which means spotlighting everything from collapsing ice shelves in Arctic Canada to the flooding of the Nile that has devastated the city of Khartoum in Sudan. de Wever’s vocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement has also included reminders that the outsize impact of the environmental crisis on communities of color around the world is a product of structural racism too.