Teenage activist Greta Thunberg takes climate campaign to the high seas on Plymouth-New York boat trip

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a news conference ahead of her trans-Atlantic boat trip to New York in Plymouth, southern UK. (Reuters)
Updated 14 August 2019

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg takes climate campaign to the high seas on Plymouth-New York boat trip

  • 16-year-old activist, who shot to global fame last year after she started missing school every Friday to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament, is bound for New York
  • The vessel has been equipped with solar panels and underwater electricity turbines to ensure that it leaves no carbon footprint

PLYMOUTH, UK: With the wind in her hair and TV cameras pointing at her, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg began a trans-Atlantic crossing in a racing yacht on Wednesday to further her campaign for stronger action against climate change.
The 16-year-old activist, who shot to global fame last year after she started missing school every Friday to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament, is bound for New York, where she will take part in a United Nations climate summit.
Standing on a pontoon in a marina in Plymouth, southwest England, Thunberg gave a news conference in front of a throng of TV crews and photographers just before setting sail under a typically English grey sky on the 60-foot yacht Malizia II.

The vessel has been equipped with solar panels and underwater electricity turbines to ensure that it leaves no carbon footprint. Conditions on board are Spartan, with no shower or toilet, and meals will consist of freeze-dried food.
Thunberg, who was wearing a black waterproof jacket emblazoned with the slogan “Unite Behind the Science,” was asked how she expected other people to travel across continents, given that not everyone could muster a racing yacht and crew.
“I am not telling anyone what to do or what not to do,” she responded. “I am one of the very, very few people in the world who actually can do this and I think I should take that chance.”
She said that her voice was not heard at all when she first started campaigning on climate change issues, and it was only after she started her school strikes and other teenagers began to emulate her that she made an impact. This had convinced her of the value of creative forms of campaigning.

Having previously said it would be a waste of time for her to meet President Donald Trump, who has pulled the United States out of the Paris accord on limiting the effects of climate change, Thunberg was pressed on why she would not want to seize any chance to convince him or other skeptics.
“I’m not that special. I can’t convince everyone. Instead of speaking to me and to the school-striking children and teenagers they should be talking to actual scientists and experts in this area,” she said.
“There are climate delayers who want to do everything to shift the focus from the climate crisis to something else, or want to make people question the science. I’m not worried about that. I’m just going to do as I want to do and what I think will have most impact.”
Thunberg is taking a year off school to travel around the Americas. She said she did not yet know how she would come home at the end of her travels.

 


Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

Updated 8 min 37 sec ago

Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

  • Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes
HONG KONG: Hong Kong residents endured a fourth day of traffic snarls and mass transit disruptions Thursday as protesters closed some main roads and rail networks while police skirmished with militant students at major universities.

Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. None of the officers were injured, and six arrows were seized at the scene, police said.

Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes.

The government appealed for employers to show flexibility. “For staff who cannot report for duty on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances,” a statement said.

The Education Bureau extended the suspension of classes for kindergarten to high school students until Monday. It ordered schools to remain open, though, to handle children whose parents need to send them to school.

At Polytechnic University, protesters shot an arrow at officers patrolling nearby, then threw flower pots from a height when other officers arrived. Police responded with tear gas, and protesters fired more arrows.

Protesters have hurled gasoline bombs and thrown objects off bridges onto roads below during clashes at campuses this week. The Chinese University of Hong Kong suspended classes for the rest of the year, and others asked students to switch to online learning.

Students at Chinese University, site of some of the fiercest clashes where students hurled more than 400 firebombs at police on Tuesday, have barricaded themselves in the suburban campus.

Early Thursday they used chainsaws to drop trees onto streets around the campus and prepared for a possible confrontation with police, which were not intervening.

Anti-government protests have riven Hong Kong, and divided its people, for more than five months.

A major rail line connecting Kowloon to mainland China was closed for a second day and five major underground stations were shut along with seven light rail routes, the Transport Department announced.

“Road-based transport services have been seriously affected this morning due to continued road blockages and damage to road facilities. In view of safety concerns and uncertain road conditions, buses can only provide limited services,” the department said.
Traffic was also disrupted because protesters have destroyed at least 240 traffic lights around the city.

The movement began in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill. Activists saw it as another sign of an erosion in Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.