Greta to cross Atlantic by racing boat for UN summit

Published by Kayle Crosson on

July 30th, 2019

Student climate activist Greta Thunberg will cross the Atlantic Ocean by boat to attend the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September.

In a tweet, the Swedish campaigner announced that she will set sail from the United Kingdom mid-August aboard the 60-foot racing boat Malizia II. Team Malizia said in a Facebook post that they would be “honoured” to bring her across the Atlantic. 

Thunberg has continuously reiterated her refusal to fly, due to its environmental impact. 

In addition to emitting carbon dioxide, aviation emits pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. When entering the atmosphere at high altitudes, nitrogen oxides strengthen the lining of the ozone layer which leads to warmer temperatures. 

Research also suggests that aviation worsens air quality and may cause 16,000 premature deaths every year due to particulate matter exposure. 

And since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions from air travel have more than doubled. With the industry expected to expand further and if trends continue globally, aviation may contribute up to 22 percent of CO2 emissions by 2050.

Thunberg also plans to join delegates at this year’s key United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in December in Chile.  Both conferences, Thunberg has said, are “pretty much where our future will be decided”. 

The September conference hopes to see international leaders present “concrete, realistic plans” to improve 2020 emission reduction goals and set the world on track for net-zero emissions by 2050.

The December gathering in Chile will mark 25 years since the UNFCCC’s founding and parties to the Convention will meet to discuss current commitments to limit global warming. 

Last summer, Thunberg started going on strike from school and sitting on the steps of her parliament to demand greater action on tackling climate change. 

In her address at the 2018 UN climate summit, she asked the world’s young people to lead on climate action and called on citizens around the world to “realize that our political leaders have failed us”. 

“We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again,” she said. 

“We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge.” 

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.