Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World: what is the BBC documentary about - and when is it on TV?

In a three-part docuseries, the 18-year-old Swedish activist visits key locations that demonstrate the destructive impact of climate change on our planet

Monday, 12th April 2021, 5:20 pm
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has been campaigning for immediate action on climate change, since 2018 (Picture: Getty Images)

BBC One will air an hour-long documentary tonight (12 April) in the first of a three-part series on Greta Thunberg and her efforts to convince climate change deniers to listen to the science.

Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World, follows on from Thunberg’s previous documentary, I am Greta, which was released last year.

So, what is the mini-docu series about and what has Thunberg said recently about climate change? This is what you need to know.

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Who is Greta Thunberg?

Thunberg is an 18-year-old Swedish activist, who shot into the limelight when she decided to skip school every Friday in the summer of 2018, to sit outside the Swedish parliament and campaign for climate action.

In May 2018, Thunberg won a climate change essay competition for Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, which marked the beginning of her career as an activist.

The teenager went on to lead the largest climate strike in history on 20 September 2019, with youths around the world taking part.

That November, Thunberg staged a two-week strike outside the Swedish parliament, demanding that her government cut emissions by 15% a year.

She has since become the face of youth climate activism, appearing at climate conferences around the globe, and has addressed the United Nations assembly, the US Congress and the UK parliament.

Thunberg was awarded ‘Person of the Year’ in 2019, by TIME magazine.

What is the first episode about?

The series follows Thunberg and her father, Svante, as they travel through North America to attend a climate conference in Chile.

To understand the impact of climate change, Thunberg visits a different key location in each episode that reveals how the planet is changing.

In episode one, she stops at the Canadian Rockies, where she learns how a small change in temperature has allowed an insect infestation to kill nearly half of the trees in one of Canada's most famous national parks.

Viewers will also see her visit a glacier that is melting faster than models predict, and discover the cause is partly due to soot from forest fires falling on it.

In later episodes, she will stop off in California, where she witnesses the destruction forest fires create. The episode will show how fires have destroyed Paradise, a town at the centre of a deadly fire in 2018. The final episode will see her struggle to make it to the conference when the location is moved, but she is determined as she hopes to call for immediate action on climate change.

What did Thunberg say about climate change recently?

On Friday 9 April, Thunberg said the COP26 summit due to be held in Glasgow in November should be postponed.

Thunberg had previously said she will not attend, and believed the UK government should postpone the event until coronavirus vaccine rates have risen around the world.

She said: "This needs to happen in the right way. Of course, the best thing to do would be to get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible so that everyone could take part on the same terms."

She has attended every other major climate conference since her first protest outside the Swedish parliament two and a half years ago.

The summit is expected to be attended by world leaders, with 30,000 delegates descending on the Scottish city for the weekend long conference.

The leaders will debate a global response to climate change. So far, the UK and Scottish governments have not announced any further delays. COP26 has already been delayed from its original date in November 2020.

Where can you watch Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World?

Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World begins on BBC One on 12 April at 9pm. The following two episodes will air on Monday 19 April and Monday 26 April.