Cecilia  |  She/Her

The Fairy-Tale World

Stockholm, Sweden

Session 7: March 14, 2023

I’ve spent so many years hoping that something would happen, something that would make the world wake up and act. But climate change seems to be the only existential threat that humans don’t care about. What really bugged me was that not even my friends or family seemed to change, and it didn’t make sense, because they are intelligent and caring people who are well aware of the climate crisis. 

Why weren’t they doing more? It felt like when a friend has lost a loved one, and you know that no matter what you say or do, nothing can make things better.

So one day I stopped. I stopped being a climate activist. I stopped being the annoying one who constantly brought up the climate crisis. I stopped burning. 

And for a year I lived in this place I call the “Fairy-Tale World,” where so many people around me live. In the Fairy-Tale World, it’s enough to only care. There is no such thing as mass extinction or climate budgets, and you can talk about having kids without worrying about the thawing permafrost.

At first it was nice to be in the Fairy-Tale World. It was quite nice to be able to go to a party and not become “Climate Cecilia.” It was lovely to have space left for other things, and I became happier and lighter when I wasn’t constantly thinking about the climate collapse. I dropped some of my judgment towards my friends and family. I understood that it was easier to ignore the climate crisis than to really take it in, because that didn’t require anything of you, mentally or physically.

But this was also the thing that made me burn again, because I really, really wanted the world to take it all in. I wanted the world to be shaken to the core. I wanted it to fuel the transition.

I used to imagine how it would be the day the world woke up. I imagined I was entering the metro station, and everything was the same, yet different. The tempo was slower, and people were kinder, because everyone felt the burden and understood that kindness was needed. The billboards of the city were covered with environmental prompts, and it didn’t matter how many pages you turned in the newspaper, because it was all about the climate emergency and the ecological crisis. 

The other day I was listening to the radio on my way to work, and in one of the stories, a man declared that we wouldn’t be able to reach the 1.5-degree target. It was just a parenthesis, a side note mentioned like it was nothing. A tank ran over my chest. No big headlines, no press conferences, and still no awakenings. I was completely crushed.

My friend asked me, “But what do you want to happen?”

And I wanted to go on about how we need to halve our emissions every decade until we reach net zero by 2050. I wanted to stress that we have all the solutions, and we just need to act. But I knew she was asking me the same question that I’ve been wondering about for years: “What needs to happen for the world to truly wake up?”

I wish I knew the answer to that question.

Cecilia is a Swedish climate activist. During her years at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), she co-founded and built the social impact initiative SSE Students for Climate Action. Through this organization, Cecilia worked actively to advance the climate agenda at the Stockholm School of Economics and encourage companies to accelerate the shift toward a sustainable economy. The organization became a vibrant and active student association that engaged students and research faculty in the organization’s activities. In recognition of her efforts, Cecilia was awarded the Green Act Award (Sveriges Klimatsmartaste Student) in 2020.