Teenage climate change campaigner Greta Thunber will sail across the Atlantic in a high-speed racing yacht that runs on zero emissions next month to attend UN climate summits in the US and Chile. The 16-year-old Swede does not take planes because of the “enormous climate impact of aviation.” And rather than taking one of the cruise ships, which are also notoriously big polluters, or a sailing boat, which can be dangerous in August because of the high risk of hurricanes, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominee will be hitching a ride on Malizia II.
The 18-metre yacht is owned by German property developer Gerhard Senft and sponsored by Yacht Club de Monaco. The Brittany-based boat, which was commissioned to race around the world in the 2016-17 Vendée Globe event, is fitted with solar panels, wind turbines and underwater hydrofoils to generate zero-carbon electricity. Malizia II’s skipper, Boris Hermann, Thunber's father and Monaco’s Pierre Casiraghi will accompany her on the two-week voyage, which starts mid August from England.
The determined Thunber said she had spent months trying to figure out how to travel across the Atlantic before Senft came across her dilemma on Twitter and offered his boat. “Taking a boat to North America is basically impossible,” she said in an interview during her weekly ‘Fridays for Future’ protest outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm. “I have had countless people helping me, trying to contact different boats.”
Thunber will be speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September in New York, where she will also be taking part in several meetings and protests. The activist will then travel by train and bus to the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago, which is taking place from 2-13 December. She will be making stops in Canada, Mexico and other countries. The feisty youngster, who is taking a sabbatical year to keep raising awareness of climate change and pressure world leaders to step up efforts to curb global warming, has described the summits as “pretty much where our future will be decided.”
The campaigner has inspired tens of thousands to fight inaction over the environment, and her solo protest last year sparked the ‘Fridays for Future’ global school climate strike movement. Stirred by the social media-savvy Thunber, school students started missing lessons to call for faster action against climate change. The activist has spoken to policymakers at last year’s UN climate conference in Poland, to business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos and to French and British politicians. She has also met Pope Francis.