Watch CBS News

Climate activist Greta Thunberg sets sail from the U.S. to Spain for a UN climate summit

Greta Thunberg scolds world leaders at U.N.
Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg scolds world leaders at the United Nations 01:17

Climate activist Greta Thunberg found a ride back across the Atlantic thanks to a pair of YouTubers, after a United Nations climate change summit got relocated from Chile to Spain. 

The 16-year-old Swedish activist, who has been making speeches and leading protests across the U.S. and Canada since August, planned to travel to Chile for the upcoming U.N. climate summit, known as COP25. But the country canceled plans to host the event after massive political and economic protests turned violent.

The summit's last-minute move to Madrid initially left Thunberg stranded because of her unconventional transportation choice: She refuses to travel by plane to avoid contributing to a heavy carbon footprint.

But she announced in a tweet on Tuesday that she'd found a ride aboard a sailboat with Riley Whitlum and Elayna Carausu, an Australian couple and their toddler who post about their travels on YouTube. Nikki Henderson, a British professional sailor, will also join the voyage. The group will be traveling on La Vagabonde, a 48-foot sailing catamaran.

"We sail for home!" Thunberg tweeted Wednesday morning.

"So happy to say I'll hopefully make it to COP25 in Madrid," she wrote.

The boat has a carbon-neutral footprint as it's powered by solar panels and hydro-generators. By comparison, a roundtrip flight from New York to Madrid generates about 848 kg of CO2 emissions, according to an estimate by the German nonprofit Atmosfair. There are 53 countries where the average person produces less CO2 than that in an entire year.

In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, Thunberg said she chose to sail "to highlight the fact that you can't live sustainably in today's society."

The Times also reported that the trip will take about three weeks, so Thunberg should arrive in Madrid just in time for COP25 on December 2.

The Swedish teenager arrived in the U.S. in August after sailing across the Atlantic aboard a zero-carbon yacht to attend climate meetings as part of the United Nations General Assembly — a decision that helped focus the world's attention on the urgent issue of climate change.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.