Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg sets sail today for New York, 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.
Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg departed Plymouth on her trip to New York to attend a United Nations climate change conference
Ms Thunberg waved from the bow of the zero emissions racing yacht as it left Plymouth
The 16-year-old from Sweden launched a global campaign among school children after she began a protest outside the parliament in Stockholm
Greta Thunberg, pictured with her father Svante, centre and skipper Boris Hermann, right, will sail across the Atlantic in a 60-ft racing yacht which uses renewable energy to generate its own electricity. Her trip to a UN climate conference will emit zero emissions
Speaking ahead of her voyage, Ms Thunberg said crossing the Atlantic in a racing yacht ‘is going to be a huge challenge for everyone on board, that’s what you have to expect’.
About climate sceptics, she said: There’s always going to be people who don’t understand or accept the united science, and I will just ignore them, as I’m only acting and communicating on the science.’
Asked where she gets her energy from, she said: ‘I know this is a very big problem, I have read a lot and I understand the problem in many ways.
‘And then I have just dedicated that I’m going to do everything I can, that keeps me going, the determination I will do everything to doing everything I can.
‘Also the fact that some things are actually changing, I think the mindsets of many people are changing, even if it’s not enough, and not fast enough, that’s something, it’s not for nothing.
Ms Thunberg said her two-week trip would have challenges including seasickness, but said many people in the world were suffering a lot more than that.
‘I was test sailing two days ago and we went out for several hours.
‘I didn’t feel bad or anxious, I felt seasick for about one or two minutes, then it stopped.
‘I will just have to see, get on the boat and and see what happens, and that is also very exciting.
‘I’ve never done anything like this before, I can’t really say what’s going to be the biggest challenge, I will have to find that out.’
She continued: ‘In the beginning my voice wasn’t heard at all, I tried different ways until I found some kind of method that made my voice heard.
‘It’s individual for everyone, you have to be creative and come up with something new to do, there’s so many things.
‘It’s such an incredibly big and global problem, it needs to be tackled from every possible angle.’
The vessel will take around two weeks to cross the Atlantic ahead of the UN conference
The 60-ft boat, Malizia II is capable of travelling at speeds of up to 43mph – powered by the wind – although it will be sailing mostly into the wind on its way across the Atlantic
The 60-foot boat 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.
The journey takes about two weeks – the yacht can travel at speeds of around 43mph 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 said as he made final preparations in Plymouth.
Greta Thunberg refuses to travel to the US by cruise ship or plane: Here’s why
The climate change activist has ruled out flying on a plane for the trip because on average, a plane produces a little over 53 pounds of carbon dioxide per air mile.
For example, non-stop flights from London to New York City take between 8 to 10 hours based on the airline.
There are 3,470 miles between London and the Big Apple. When that number is multiplied by 53 it equates to about 183,910 pounds of emissions per flight between the two cities.
Thunberg also refuses to travel aboard a cruise ship because they’re notoriously big polluters.
Most cruises travel from the East Coast of the US to the UK – usually England. By sea, it will take six or seven days in transit, and sometimes longer.
A single large cruise ship can emit over five tons of oxides of nitrogen.
Thunberg has opted to take on the Atlantic on a high-tech yacht, known as the Malizia II.
The journey from the UK to New York will take approximately two weeks on the Malizia II.
The boat is fitted with solar panels and underwater turbines that allow it to generate zero-carbon electricity on board
It will be captained by yachtsman Boris Herrmann.
Thunberg has become a figurehead for climate action with her stark warnings of catastrophe if the world does not act now to cut carbon emissions and curb global warming.
She said: ‘Of course there are many people who don’t understand and accept the science.
‘I will just have to do what I have always done – ignore them and just tell the science as it is,’ she added in reference to her North American trip.
‘We create an international opinion and movement so that people stand together and put pressure on the people in power.’
The yacht is made for racing, with foils, or wings, that lift it out of the water for a faster and smoother ride.
Inside it is sparse, fitted with high-tech navigation equipment, an on-board ocean laboratory to monitor CO2 levels in the water, and four bunks – Herrmann and Casiraghi will share one, sleeping in turns.
The toilet is a blue plastic bucket, complete with a biodegradable bag that can be thrown overboard, and meals will be freeze-dried packets of vegan food mixed with water heated on a tiny gas stove.
But state-of-the-art solar panels adorn the yacht’s deck and sides while there are two hydro-generators, which together provide all the electricity they need on board.
Thunberg has never sailed before this week, and got seasick on their first journey out of Plymouth on Monday, but said she was looking forward to the adventure.
The teenager, who has spent hours on trains across Europe to spread her message, was relaxed about the basic conditions.
‘You can’t really ask for that much if you get to sail across the Atlantic for free,’ she said, adding: ‘I am grateful for what I have.’
How did Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg become the poster girl for the climate change movement?
The youth-led climate protests which kicked off across the world were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who went on a three-week school strike outside her country’s parliament in summer last year.
Born to a professional opera singer mother, the pigtailed 16-year-old developed her interest in climate change aged nine after watching a film on the effects of plastic.
What began as a lone fight in August last year outside the Swedish parliament spread all over the world and involved more than 100,000 schoolchildren in 112 different countries.
Greta Thunberg, pictured, is a teenager who began a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament last year which has since spread across the globe. The Fridays For Future events saw young people demand that their government takes action against climate change
The movement was called Fridays For Future and consisted of students taking every Friday off to demand government action on the climate issue.
Greta has Asperger’s and ADHD but has often spoken on how her conditions have acted as a motivator instead of a source of depression, which she said they once were.
Since her first strike last year at the age of 15, Greta has gone on to talk about the possible solutions to combat climate change at rallies in Stockholm, Helsinki, Brussels and London. Every conference she has attended she has travelled by train, bus or cycled in an effort to keep her carbon footprint low.
Over the last few years she has convinced her family to make drastic changes in order to help save the planet including refusing to fly on planes, growing their own vegetables and not eating meat.
Greta was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by members of Norway’s Parliament for her work and determination, and she received the freedom of expression, Fritt Ord Prize, in April.
Greta is setting sail on 60ft racing boat Malizia II to get to this year’s UN Climate Action Summit in New York and the COP25 climate change conference in Santiago.