Greta Thunberg arrives in New York after voyage across Atlantic

Teenage climate activist travels to UN conference in zero-emissions sailboat

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg called on the US and its president, Donald Trump, to "listen to the science" of climate change after completing a transatlantic journey to New York in a zero-carbon emissions vessel. Video: Reuters

 

Her protests on Fridays demanding action on climate change have inspired children to demonstrate in some 100 cities. Her admonitions to grown-ups to “tell it like it is” have won her an invitation to speak at the United Nations. Now, after sailing across the Atlantic in a zero-emissions boat, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, is poised to disembark in lower Manhattan on Wednesday.

After a 15-day sail that was obsessively tracked by European news media, cheered by fellow climate activists, mocked by detractors and rocked by rough waves off Nova Scotia, Greta wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night that she could see the lights of New York City.

On Wednesday morning local time, she and the boat’s crew were going through customs while anchored off Coney Island, Brooklyn. Greta does not fly because of airplanes’ high emissions of gases. To reach New York for a talk on September 23rd at the UN Climate Action Summit, she was offered a ride on the Malizia II, a racing yacht that uses solar panels and underwater generator turbines to avoid producing carbon emissions, according to a statement from Greta’s team.

She will be docking in lower Manhattan, blocks from Wall Street, the heart of the global financial system whose investments in fossil fuels are one of the main targets of climate protesters. Young American climate activists planning demonstrations pegged to the climate summit and crowds of journalists are expected to greet her at the North Cove Marina.

Her arrival also comes as the many New Yorkers with roots and relatives in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic brace for Hurricane Dorian, the kind of extreme weather event that scientists say is becoming more frequent with climate change, which is currently bearing down on the islands.

Greta Thunberg arrives in the US on board the Malizia II after a 15-day journey crossing the Atlantic. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
Greta Thunberg arrives in the US on board the Malizia II after a 15-day journey crossing the Atlantic. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

The yacht was skippered by a German sailor, Boris Herrmann, and Pierre Casiraghi, a son of Princess Caroline of Monaco. It collects data that allows scientists to study rates of ocean acidification, a byproduct of carbon emissions.

Greta began protesting outside the Swedish parliament in 2018. With her signature double braids and stern demeanour, she inspired a movement called Fridays for Future, in which thousands of children have walked out of school in locally and sometimes globally co-ordinated strikes.

Criticism

Greta has her detractors, too. She was criticised after single-use plastic water bottles were seen on the yacht. Some have called her naive or labelled her call to “pull the emergency brake” on emissions simplistic or even undemocratic. Others question whether encouraging teenagers and younger children to skip school to protest is the right approach.

Greta has responded by arguing that the world is in a climate emergency and requires emergency action. A shy girl who self-identifies as having Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological difference on the autism spectrum, Greta was thrust into the role of a global leader after years of struggling with crippling depression. One of her first victories was persuading her mother, a well-known opera singer in Sweden, to stop flying.

“We cannot solve the crisis without treating it as a crisis,” she said in a 2018 speech. “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

Greta’s arrival in New York comes just weeks after the state passed the US’s most aggressive climate law, which seeks to reshape the region’s economy over the next 30 years, cutting net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 and requiring the state to get 70 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. – New York Times