Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses plenary of UN climate conference during with a meeting with leading climate scientists at the COP25 summit in Madrid. Picture: Paul White/AP

London - Greta Thunberg has been named Time magazine’s youngest ever person of the year.

The 16-year-old has become the sometimes divisive face of the youth environmental movement, challenging world leaders to do more to stop global warming.

Miss Thunberg launched a grassroots campaign aged 15 by skipping school every Friday to protest outside the Swedish parliament, urging the government to curb carbon emissions.

She struck a chord and in September this year millions took to the streets in cities around the world to support her cause.

Time honoured her ‘for sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads’.

It added: ‘Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year.’ Miss Thunberg, in Madrid for UN climate talks yesterday, said she was surprised by the accolade, then condemned politicians for doing ‘almost nothing’.

Previous Time people of the year include Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, the Queen and former US president Barack Obama.

Daily Mail