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Greta Thunberg Heads to the U.N. Climate Talks by Sailboat

Activists and politicians alike have hailed Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, for her outspoken avocation for combating global climate change and rallying young people to the cause. However, actions speak louder than words, and Thunberg’s speak volumes to her commitment and dedication to preventing the destruction of the climate, as she is sacrificing her own comfort and time in order to reduce emissions.

Specifically, she’s focusing on cleaner forms of travel, not only in theory but in reality. The activist has decided to sail from Plymouth, England to New York City, in order to attend the U.N. Climate Talks with zero carbon emissions. At 3 pm local time on August 13, Thunberg set sail on a racing yacht, the Malizia II, accompanied by her father, Captain Boris Hermann, filmmaker Nathan Grossman, and Pierre Casiraghi, who owns the boat.


“By doing this it also shows how impossible it is today to live sustainable,” Thunberg told the New York Times. “That, in order to travel with zero emissions, that we have to sail like this across the Atlantic Ocean.”

Despite traveling by yacht, her trip will be no pleasure cruise. The amenities are scarce indeed, with no toilet or shower, little light below deck, and meals consisting of water from a small desalination machine and some freeze dried vegan food. What she does have, however, is a satellite phone to keep the general public updated on her journey, eight writing journals, and plenty of books to keep her occupied.

“It’s not very luxurious, it’s not very fancy but I don’t need that. I need only a bed and just the basic things,” Thunberg said to The Associated Press. “So I think it will be fun, and I also think it will be fun to be isolated and not be so limited.”

As for the trip itself, Captain Hermann stated that he planned on taking a southern route in order to stay away from the strongest winds and ensure a smoother, faster ride. Luckily, the Malizia II was built specially for round-the-world travel such as this one, and is outfitted with solar panels and underwater turbines.

Casiraghi and Hermann are no strangers to sailing or activism, as they created Team Malizia to sail in prestigious ocean races, and bring awareness to children about climate change through the Malizia Ocean Challenge. Captain Hermann told the New York Times, “I feel a special responsibility also because it’s an important trip for Greta and we promised to bring her over. I admire her leadership.”

A diagram of the Maliza II published by The Guardian

Hardly two days into her journey, Thunberg has already faced criticism for her trip. Arron Banks, an influential British businessman and Brexit supporter, responded to a tweet about Thunberg and seeming to wish the teenager harm during her voyage.

Unfortunately, Thunberg is no stranger to these types of cruel remarks from powerful leaders. After Steve Milloy, a lawyer formerly on President Trump’s transition team, called Thunberg an “ignorant teenage climate puppet,” earlirt this week, the activist calmly responded by telling the New York Times, “They are doing everything they can to switch the focus from the climate crisis to me. That is what you have to expect when you talk about these things.”

Despite any wishes of harm or contempt, Thunberg’s travels have consisted of mostly smooth sailing so far, as seen by her most recent post on Twitter. It’s unclear how long her journey will take or what dangers lie ahead, but assuming all goes well Thunberg should arrive safe and sound at the U.N. Climate Talks in New York next month.

There’s no denying that climate change is a time-sensitive issue with devastating repercussions. Thunberg’s actions show that she is both a dedicated advocate for cleaner, greener solutions, and that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring awareness and tangible political change to the issue.

In an interview before the Maliza II lifted anchor, Thunberg said, “This is a big opportunity for those world leaders who say they’ve been listening to us to actually show that they’ve been listening to us, to actually prove that.”

Featured Image: @GretaThunberg on Instagram

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