Greta Thunberg to hitch a ride to Europe with Australian YouTube influencers

Naaman Zhou
Photograph: @gretathunberg/Reuters

Greta Thunberg will hitch a ride with two Australian sailing YouTubers on her low-emissions voyage from America to the UN climate change conference in Madrid.

The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist had initially been stranded in the United States after the location of the conference was abruptly changed from Chile to Spain at the last minute.

Related: Greta Thunberg leaves US with simple climate crisis message: vote

“It turns out I’ve travelled half around the world, the wrong way,” she said at the time.

Thunberg travelled from Sweden to the US by yacht in August and has since travelled across the Americas by overland train and an electric car borrowed from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On Tuesday night, the Nobel peace prize nominee announced she had found a solution.

Thunberg will set sail for Europe immediately on a 48-foot catamaran with Australian vloggers Riley Whitlum and Elayna Carausu and Englishwoman Nikki Henderson – who is a professional yachtswoman.

The boat leaves little to no carbon footprint, boasting solar panels and a hydro-generators for power. It also has a toilet, unlike the boat on which she sailed from the United Kingdom to New York in August, which only had a bucket.

Whitlum and Carausu are YouTubers who post a new video every week of their journey around their world with their 11-month-old son. They are YouTube’s most popular sailing vloggers, with over a million subscribers.

The UN climate conference, known as COP25, was set for 2 December in Santiago, but was moved on 30 October after civil unrest hit Chile, leaving Thunberg with only four weeks notice to make it halfway across the world.

Thunberg arrived in the US in August, after sailing for weeks from England. In New York she addressed the UN on the climate crisis, calling out governments for betraying young people.

She had planned to travel slowly down to Chile through the Americas. Two weeks ago, she had posted to social media asking for help.

“Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November ... If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.”

Whitlum and Carausu met on the Greek island of Ios, when she was working for a travel company and he was living on a sailboat.

The pair has covered more than 65,000 nautical miles since 2014.

Henderson is an accomplished sailor and last year became the youngest ever skipper to compete at the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, at age 25. Her team came in second place.

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