A university in Britain is getting backlash over plans to build a life-sized statue of Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg on its campus in Hampshire, a report says.
Winchester University is poised to unveil the sculpture of the feisty 18-year-old activist on March 30, but some are demanding to know if it’s necessary.
“What a total waste of money,” local resident Simon Dixon said to the Hampshire Chronicle. “Total waste of money. I wonder whose bright idea that was.”
University student Henry Osbourne questioned why he and his peers at the school “weren’t given a vote over who to have a statue of?”
“I think the statue sculpture itself is very good,” commented Chronicle subscriber Michelle Coombs. “But Greta has no connection with Winchester, or am I wrong?”
Another commenter, Mark Robinson, said he likes the statue but, “to be fair Greta probably is inspirational to many of the current generation of students and given that it’s at the university I don’t think there is a particular reason for a strong Winchester connection. Usually statues are erected to reflect a long lasting legacy and that will be the test with this one.”
The sculpture, given the name “Make a Difference,” is the work of British artist Christine Charlesworth, and was authorized in 2019 by the university at a price of over $32,000, according to the Chronicle.
“The university wanted a sculpture of Greta because it is a very ‘green’ university, and they feel that Greta will be an inspiration to all the students,” Charlesworth explained.
“Originally the interview committee were talking about her sitting on the ground, wearing her yellow coat,” she noted. “But I feel strongly about portraying her telling more about the person she is.”
“Greta Thunberg is now cast in bronze and I will visit the foundry next week to see patination – Winchester want her green,” Charlesworth posted on Facebook.
“Setting on site on 25th and unveiling (in a crowd of about 6 top bods and me) on 30th March. So exciting as I have been told this is the first full size statue of her in the world …..probably find out there are twelve now!!”
Greta Thunberg became a progressive darling when she attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2018, sharply scolding world leaders. She then addressed the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit with her now infamous and often memed “How dare you!” speech.
Thunberg comes from a family heavily involved in theater who fostered her flair for the dramatic and position on environmentalism. It has been reported that she has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism, as well as depression at a young age.
Recently, the activist even turned her attention to President Biden, who she endorsed during the 2020 election, saying he isn’t doing enough to “treat the climate crisis like a crisis,” charging him with being “not nearly enough in line with the science” on the topic.
“Well, you shouldn’t take that from me, I’m just a teenager, so I’m not — I don’t have the mandate to sort of give grades like that. My opinions on this doesn’t matter,” Thunberg said.
“I would just like you to basically just treat the climate crisis like a crisis. They have said themselves that this is an existential threat,” she said, explaining that Biden isn’t handling it the way she would like.
“They are just treating the climate crisis as it was a political topic, among other topics and, yeah, treat it as a crisis, that’s the No. 1 step,” the 18-year-old added.
Officials at Winchester University have not made an official comment regarding the criticism of the statue at this time.