STOCKHOLM (AP) — Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose social-media-savvy brand of eco-activism has inspired tens of thousands of students in Europe to skip classes and protest for faster action against climate change, said Monday that she plans to take her message to America the old-fashioned way: by boat.
The 16-year-old tweeted that she’ll sail across the Atlantic aboard a high-tech racing yacht, leaving Britain next month to attend U.N. climate summits in New York in September and Santiago, Chile, in December.
Thunberg told The Associated Press ahead of her announcement that she spent months trying to figure out how to travel to the U.S. without using planes, which she has long shunned because of their high greenhouse gas emissions.
Cruise ships are also notoriously big polluters, while sailors rarely brave the Atlantic in August because of hurricane risks.
“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.”
Thunberg plans to take a year off from school to keep raising awareness of climate change and pressuring world leaders to step up efforts to curb global warming.
Since starting her “school strikes” in August 2018, the daughter of an actor and an opera singer has appeared before policymakers at last year’s U.N. climate conference in Poland and harangued business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She also met with Pope Francis, who praised Thunberg’s efforts and encouraged her to continue campaigning.
Although little-known in the United States, Thunberg has arguably become the figurehead for a new generation of European eco-activists worried that they’ll suffer the fallout from their parents’ and grandparents’ unwillingness to take strong actions to combat climate change.
“This past year, my life has turned upside down,” Thunberg told the AP. “Every day is an adventure, basically. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and say ‘Is this really real? Has this actually been happening?’ Because it has all happened so fast and it’s hard to keep up with everything.
“In a way, I am more optimistic, because people are slowly waking up and people are becoming more aware of the situation. This whole ‘Fridays for Future’ movement is very hopeful,” she said. “But also … one year has passed and still, almost nothing has happened.”