In the span of one year, Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old student activist from Sweden has become the global face of climate change.
Since launching her school climate strike movement in August 2018, millions of people have tuned into her message. On Wednesday she arrived in New York after a grueling 14-day voyage at sea to highlight the cost of air travel to the environment and increase awareness about climate change.
CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.
After crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg arrived safely at a New York harbor.
One could feel her excitement in a tweet sent out hours before docking – “Land!!,” she wrote. “The lights of Long Island and New York City Ahead.”
The two-week journey from the U.K. to New York was made aboard the Malizia II, an emission-free 18-meter racing yacht that has no toilet, shower or kitchen.
“I want to thank everyone who is involved in this climate fight because this is a fight across borders across continents,” said Thunberg.
The 16-year old, who had no prior sailing experience, seemed calm even when conditions got choppy as she neared the coast of Canada.
Thunberg chose to travel by boat instead of plane to reduce her carbon footprint and highlight the toll airline emissions take on the environment.
A flight to New York would pump around 1000 kilograms (2200 pounds) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“Sometimes this is what it takes. When you think about other social issues, sometimes young people almost shaming their elders into listening to their message. We’ve seen that before with other causes and we’re very much seeing that here with Greta when it comes to climate change,” said Seth Kaplan, an aviation journalist for National Public Radio in the U.S.
Thunberg was virtually unknown a year ago. But everything changed after she launched her “school climate strike”, urging students around the world to strike on Fridays to demand their governments do more to help fight climate change.
“Some people say that we should be in school instead. But why should we be studying for a future that soon will be no more,” said Thunberg in a video she produced for the campaign.
The video garnered more than 3.5 million views and there are now hundreds of school strikes every Friday around the world. Thunberg has more than 2.8 million Instagram followers.
“She’s put together a great message. Obviously very skilled in terms of using social media and everything else that’s out there to get a lot of attention on this important cause,” said Kaplan.
Thunberg’s arrival in New York is just the beginning of a one-year sabbatical from school to focus on climate change activism.
She’ll speak at a climate change summit at the United Nations here in New York in September.
On the 30th of September she is calling for a global general strike for the environment and will speak at a U.N. climate summit in Chile in December.
A busy year ahead.