Thun­berg says voy­age ‘en­er­gized’ her

Swedish cli­mate change ac­tivist ar­rives by sail­boat for Madrid con­fer­ence

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - BARRY HAT­TON AND FRANK JOR­DANS

LIS­BON, POR­TU­GAL — Cli­mate ac­tivist Greta Thun­berg ar­rived in Por­tu­gal on Tues­day af­ter a three-week voy­age across the At­lantic Ocean, telling cheer­ing sup­port­ers that the jour­ney had “en­er­gized” her for the fight against cli­mate change.

The Swedish teen, whose onewoman protests out­side the Swedish par­lia­ment helped in­spire a global youth move­ment, sailed into the port of Lis­bon af­ter mak­ing a last-minute dash back from the United States to at­tend this year’s U.N. cli­mate con­fer­ence.

Thun­berg has been stead­fast in her re­fusal to fly be­cause of the amount of green­house gases emit­ted by planes, a stance that put her planned ap­pear­ance at the meet­ing in doubt when the venue was moved from Chile to Spain a month ago.

“We’ve all been on quite an ad­ven­ture,” Thun­berg told re­porters shortly af­ter step­ping off the cata­ma­ran La Vagabonde, on which she’d hitched a ride back home to Europe. “It feels good to be back.”

Thun­berg’s ap­pear­ances at past cli­mate meet­ings have won her plau­dits from some lead­ers — and crit­i­cism from oth­ers who’ve taken of­fence at the an­gry tone of her speeches.

“I think peo­ple are un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the force of an­gry kids,” Thun­berg said. “If they want us to stop be­ing an­gry, then maybe they should stop mak­ing us an­gry.”

The 16-year-old said she planned to spend sev­eral days in the Por­tuguese cap­i­tal be­fore head­ing to Madrid, where del­e­gates from nearly 200 coun­tries are dis­cussing how to tackle global warm­ing.

“We will con­tinue the fight there to make sure that within those walls the voices of the peo­ple are be­ing heard,” she said.

The white 48-foot (15-me­tre) yacht car­ry­ing Thun­berg, her fa­ther Svante, an Aus­tralian fam­ily and pro­fes­sional sailor Nikki Hen­der­son sailed into Lis­bon amid blue skies, with a small flotilla of boats es­cort­ing it to har­bour.

Her trip con­trasted with the many air miles flown by most of the U.N. meet­ing’s 25,000 at­ten­dees.

Thun­berg wanted a low-car­bon form of trans­port to get to the cli­mate meet­ing, which was switched at short no­tice to Spain from Chile due to un­rest there.

The yacht leaves lit­tle or no car­bon foot­print when its sails are up, us­ing so­lar pan­els and hy­dro-gen­er­a­tors for elec­tric­ity.

“I am not trav­el­ling like this be­cause I want ev­ery­one to do so,” said Thun­berg. “I’m do­ing this to sort of send the mes­sage that it is im­pos­si­ble to live sus­tain­able to­day, and that needs to change. It needs to be­come much eas­ier.”

She said bring­ing her crit­i­cal mes­sage to po­lit­i­cal lead­ers can feel awk­ward. “I feel strange when I get ap­plauded by peo­ple in power ... be­cause it’s ob­vi­ous that it’s them I’m crit­i­ciz­ing but they can’t show that in front of the cam­eras,” she said. “It’s quite funny some­times.”

Look­ing ahead to next year’s pres­i­den­tial election in the United States, Thun­berg said: “I just hope that some­one wins that can think on the long term, not just the short term.”

Chile’s En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter

Carolina Sch­midt, saluted Thun­berg’s role speak­ing out about the threat of cli­mate change.

“She has been a leader that has been able to move and open hearts for many young peo­ple and many peo­ple all over the world,” Sch­midt told The As­so­ci­ated Press at the sum­mit in Madrid. “We need that tremen­dous force in or­der to in­crease cli­mate ac­tion,” she said.

Near to the con­fer­ence, some 20 activists cut off traf­fic in cen­tral Madrid and staged a brief the­atri­cal per­for­mance to protest cli­mate change.

Mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional group called Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion held up a ban­ner in Russian that read: “Cli­mate Cri­sis. To speak the truth. To take ac­tion im­me­di­ately.”

Some activists jumped into a nearby foun­tain while oth­ers threw them life jack­ets. They chanted: “What Do We Want? Cli­mate Jus­tice.”

Oth­ers dressed in red robes with their faces whitened to sym­bol­ize the hu­man species’ peril danced briefly be­fore po­lice moved in to end the protest.

Mean­while, the U.N. weather agency re­leased a new re­port show­ing that the cur­rent decade is likely to set a new 10year tem­per­a­ture record, pro­vid­ing mount­ing ev­i­dence that the world is get­ting ever hot­ter. Pre­lim­i­nary tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ments show the years from 2015 to 2019 and from 2010 to 2019 “are, re­spec­tively, al­most cer­tain to be the warm­est five-year pe­riod and decade on record,” the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion said.

“Since the 1980s, each suc­ces­sive decade has been warmer than the last,” the agency said.

While full-year fig­ures aren’t re­leased un­til next March, 2019 is also ex­pected to be the sec­ond or third warm­est year since mea­sure­ments be­gan, with 2016 still hold­ing the all­time tem­per­a­ture record, it said.

This year was hot­ter than av­er­age in most parts of the world, in­clud­ing the Arc­tic. “In con­trast a large area of North Amer­ica has been colder than the re­cent av­er­age,” the U.N. said.

The World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual re­port, which brings to­gether data from nu­mer­ous na­tional weather agen­cies and re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions, also high­lighted the im­pacts of cli­mate change in­clud­ing de­clin­ing sea ice and ris­ing sea lev­els, which reached their high­est level this year since high-pre­ci­sion mea­sure­ments be­gan in 1993.

HO­RA­CIO VILLALOBOS GETTY IM­AGES

Swedish teen cli­mate ac­tivist Greta Thun­berg shows the plac­ard "School strike for the cli­mate," which she held out­side the Swedish par­lia­ment, upon her ar­rival in Santo Amaro Re­cre­ation dock on Tues­day in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal.

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