Greta Thunberg Will Cross the Atlantic by Sailboat

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
Public Domain. Wikimedia

It solves the young activist's dilemma of wanting to attend two U.N. climate change summits without relying on fossil fuels.

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, has announced that she will cross the Atlantic Ocean on a racing sailboat to attend the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York in September. She will then make her way south to Santiago, Chile, to attend the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in December.

In early June, Thunberg had posted on Facebook about the importance of these summits, stating that "this is pretty much where our future will be decided. By the year 2020, next year, the emission curve must have been bended steep downwards if we are to have a chance to stay below 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming." But she was unsure of how she'd attend these events, as flying generates too many greenhouse gas emissions. She said she would "figure it out."

That's when professional sailors Boris Herrmann and Pierre Casiraghi reached out to her, offering her a ride aboard Malizia II, a speedy sailboat outfitted with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate electricity on board. They thought it would be a good fit for Thunberg, as it's one of only a few zero-emission boats. Travelling with her will be her father Svante and filmmaker Nathan Grossman, who will document the trip.

Casiraghi explained that Malizia II was developed after the team became "frustrated at the incongruity of working so hard to keep the oceans clean while simultaneously burning fossil fuels." There are emergency generators aboard, as required by marine safety code, but they are kept sealed and used only in an emergency.

The two-week crossing will not be luxurious. Thunberg has been warned about the lack of shower, refrigeration, air conditioning, and fresh meals. She'll be eating freeze-dried and vacuum-packed food, and must be ready for choppy seas, but Herrmann says she seems unconcerned. Quoted in the New York Times:

"I asked her if she was scared and she explained in a very analytical way that she thinks this voyage is safe, the boat has a lot of safety systems and is capable of sailing around the world in a race and therefore it’s a strong boat."

There are no plans yet for her return, but Thunberg does have almost five months to figure that out. She has taken a year off school to further her climate activism.