Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg set sail for New York on Wednesday, heading for a UN summit on a zero-emissions yacht skippered by a member of Monaco’s ruling family.
The 16-year-old Swede, whose school strikes have inspired children across the world to protest against global warming, refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions caused by planes.
But she has been offered a lift on the Malizia II racing yacht, along with her father Svante and a filmmaker to document the journey, that will allow her to attend the UN talks in September with a clear conscience.
The voyage will take about a fortnight, a daunting prospect for someone who has never sailed before this week, but Thunberg said she was willing to accept a bit of seasickness and a lack of comfort.
‘I am one of the very few people in the world who actually can do this, and I think I should take that chance,’ Thunberg told reporters in the English port of Plymouth, wearing her black Malizia branded sailing kit.
A few minutes later she taxied out for the Malizia on an electric motorboat and stepped onto the yacht as a group of people on a passing sail boat applauded her.
The 60-foot yacht is skippered by Pierre Casiraghi, vice president of the Monaco Yacht Club and a member of the principality’s ruling family, and German round-the-world sailor Boris Herrmann.
It can travel at speeds of around 35 knots (70 kilometres an hour) but will be heading into the wind for much of the time so will be slower, and the captain wants a smooth ride.
‘The objective is to arrive safe and sound in New York,’ Herrmann told AFP ahead of their departure.
Ahead of the UN summit on September 23, Thunberg will take part in youth demonstrations, before heading to Canada, Mexico and then to Chile for another UN conference in December. It is not clear how she will be travelling.
‘I don’t know yet how I will get home,’ she said.
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