Climate Justice researcher presents Greta Thunberg with Scottish award

23 July 2019

Eilidh Watson, Greta Thunberg and WWF Scotland's Lyndsey Croal.   Royal Scottish Geographical Society/Cameron Mackay

Eilidh Watson, Greta Thunberg and WWF Scotland's Lyndsey Croal. Royal Scottish Geographical Society/Cameron Mackay

A University climate justice researcher has presented campaigner Greta Thunberg with a prestigious environmental award in recognition of her work to combat climate change. PhD candidate, Eilidh Watson, who is studying local issues of energy justice in the Global South, was representing the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) on the trip to Sweden to present Ms Thunberg with the Geddes Environment Medal.

Ms Watson is chief editor of the RSGS Young Geographer Magazine which addresses issues of sustainability and climate change, particularly in the Arctic. Her journey to Stockholm with two RSGS colleagues took three days using sea and overland travel. The Medal, along with Honorary Fellowship of the Society, was presented outside the Swedish Parliament during one of Greta's weekly Friday climate strikes.

Ms Watson said: "It was a great honour to present Greta with the RSGS Geddes Environment Medal, particularly as someone who is passionate and committed to researching climate justice. I take great encouragement from her determination and courage and have been bowled over by the success and global awareness the School Strikes Campaign has gained."

The Geddes Environment Medal is one of the Society's most important awards, offered for an outstanding contribution to conservation and protection of the natural environment and the development of sustainability. It is named in honour of revered Scottish geographer Patrick Geddes who coined the phrase 'Think Globally, Act Locally'.

The award makes 16-year-old Greta the youngest person in the Society's 135-year history to receive an RSGS Medal. It recognises her achievements in pioneering the development of the Schools Strike for Climate Campaign, which began as a solo strike outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 and has since spread to more than 270 cities worldwide, as well as her inspirational calls for action on various international platforms.

Eilidh is one of the newest doctoral students to join the Centre for Climate Justice and is supervised by Dr Michael Mikulewicz and Dr George Loumakis. Her research provides great insights into energy justice and gender inequality in Malawi, and will help understand the wider injustices associated with the way in which countries in the Global South are transitioning to carbon-free economies.  Her work is a valuable contribution to the work of the Centre for Climate Justice on the social impacts of climate change.