New York: Teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg said the “war on nature must end” and called on Donald Trump to listen to science after she sailed into New York on a zero-emissions yacht Wednesday.
The 16-year-old completed a 15-day journey across the Atlantic shortly after 4pm (midnight UAE), stepping off the boat onto a Manhattan dock to cheering crowds chanting her name.
“It is devastating and so horrible. It’s hard to imagine. They are a clear sign that we need to stop destroying nature,” she told waiting reporters when asked how she felt about raging fires in the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest.
The Swede also rebuked Trump, a notorious climate change skeptic.
“My message for him is listen to the science and he obviously doesn’t do that,” she said.
A few hundred well-wishers and activists clapped and chanted “Greta, Greta, Greta” as she completed her 3,000-nautical-mile (5,550 kilometres) trip under overcast skies.
She passed the Statue of Liberty and headed up the Hudson River before docking at North Cove Marina near the World Trade Center.
Her yacht earlier anchored off the entertainment district of Coney Island in Brooklyn to clear customs and immigration.
The United Nations sent a flotilla of 17 sailboats, one for each of its sustainable development goals for 2030, to meet her for the last short leg of her journey.
She is sailing to New York to attend a UN summit on zero emissions next month after refusing to fly there because of the carbon emissions caused by planes.
The visit sees her bring her environmental message to the United States for the first time.
Thunberg was offered a ride on the Malizia II racing yacht skippered by Pierre Casiraghi, the son of Monaco’s Princess Caroline, and German round-the-world sailor Boris Herrmann.
The yacht left Plymouth in southern England on August 14, and the teenager marked the first anniversary of the start of her school strike on August 20.
Thunberg, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 12, began sitting outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 to get members to act on climate change.
She was quickly joined by other students around the world, as word of her strike spread through the media, and the “Fridays for future” movement was born.
The 18-metre yacht features state-of-the-art solar panels on its deck and sides, and two hydro-generators provide the vessel’s electricity.
It can travel at speeds of around 35 knots (70 kilometers an hour).
The Swede has endured cramped and rudimentary conditions onboard, eating freeze-dried food and using a bucket as a toilet.
Thunberg said earlier in the week that she expected to arrive in New York on Tuesday, but rough seas south of Nova Scotia slowed their progress.
The teenager has become a symbol for climate action with her stark warnings of catastrophe if the world does not act now to cut carbon emissions and curb global warming.
She has also received criticism and abuse for her uncompromising attitude.
Her voyage sparked controversy after a spokesman for co-skipper Herrmann told Berlin newspaper TAZ that several people would fly into New York to help take the yacht back to Europe.
Hermann himself will also return by plane, according to the spokesman.
Team Malizia’s manager insisted, however, that the young activist’s journey would be climate neutral, as the flights would “be offset.”
Thunberg has said that she does not yet know how she will return to Europe.
Ahead of the UN summit on September 23, Thunberg will take part in youth demonstrations, before heading to Canada, Mexico and then to Chile for another UN conference in December.