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Greta Thunberg sets sail for Europe after climate talks relocated

The teenage activist is returning to Europe on a catamaran.

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)
Climate change activist Greta Thunberg (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

By Ben Finley, Associated Press

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has set sail across the Atlantic for the second time in a few months on a boat whose passengers include an 11-month-old baby.

Greta travelled from Europe to the United States across the ocean for the UN’s Climate Action Summit in New York and was due to attend a global climate meeting in Santiago, Chile, in December.

But Chile cancelled at short notice and the meeting moved to Spain, forcing the 16-year-old to look for a way to head back to Europe.

She left from Hampton, Virginia, on La Vagabonde, a 15-metre long catamaran whose green credentials include solar panels and hydro-generators for power.

It also has a toilet, unlike the boat on which she sailed from the United Kingdom to New York in August.

“There are countless people around the world who don’t have access to a toilet,” she said about the upgrade. “It’s not that important. But it’s nice to have.”

The owners of the boat are Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu, an Australian couple who have an 11-month-old son named Lenny.

The family, which has a large online following, responded to Greta’s call on social media for a carbon-free ride to Europe while an expert sailor, Nikki Henderson, is also coming along.

The trip could take two to four weeks, and November is considered off-season for sailing across the Atlantic.

As Greta spoke on Tuesday in Hampton, Virginia, the temperature had dipped to around 4C as sleet turned into light snow.

But the Swede, who refuses to fly because of the carbon price of plane travel, did not seem bothered.

“I’m looking forward to it, just to be able to get away and recap everything and to just be disconnected,” she said.

Greta just finished a nearly three-month trip through North America, where she gave an impassioned speech before the United Nations and took part in climate strike rallies and protests from California to Colorado to North Carolina.

It should be the adults who take that responsibility. But it feels like the adults and the people in power today are not. Greta Thunberg

She has become a symbol of a growing movement of young climate activists after leading weekly school strikes in Sweden that inspired similar actions in about 100 cities worldwide.

She has also drawn criticism from conservative commentators in the US as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But she brushed off the criticism during her round of back-to-back interviews in the catamaran on Tuesday.

“It should be the adults who take that responsibility,” she said. “But it feels like the adults and the people in power today are not.”

When she looks back on her time in the US and Canada, Greta said the things that stick out the most include a glacier in Canada’s Jasper National Park that is destined to disappear “no matter what we do”.

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Climate activists participate in a student-led climate change march in Los Angeles (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

She also was surprised at how much she was recognised.

“There are always people who come up to me and ask for selfies and so on,” she said. “So, that really gives you an idea of how big the climate movement has reached.”

PA

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