Teen activist sails across the ocean to attend climate conference in New York

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Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, sails into New York harbor aboard the Malizia II, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The zero-emissions yacht left Plymouth, England on Aug. 14. She is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

NEW YORK (AP) — Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City to chants and cheers Wednesday following a trans-Atlantic trip on a sailboat to attend a global warming conference.

Thunberg, 16, and her crew were escorted into a lower Manhattan marina at about 4 p.m., concluding a two-week crossing from Plymouth, England.

As the boat docked, hundreds of activists welcomed her from a Hudson River promenade. Thunberg waved then was lifted onto a dock.

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, waves after sailing in New York harbor aboard the Malizia II, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The zero-emissions yacht left Plymouth, England on Aug. 14. She is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“All of this is very overwhelming,” she said of the reception, looking slightly embarrassed.

The teenager refused to fly because of the carbon cost of plane travel. A 2018 study said that because of cloud and ozone formation, air travel may trap two to four times more heat than that caused by just emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Speaking to reporters after she landed, Thunberg said the trip wasn’t as uncomfortable as she expected.

“I didn’t get seasick once,” but she stressed that “this is not something I want everyone to do.”

Thunberg has become a symbol of a growing movement of young climate activists, leading weekly protests in Sweden that focused on the issue and that inspired similar strikes in about 100 cities worldwide.

She’s in New York to speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit next month. There, she’ll join world leaders who will present plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The boat carrying Thunberg, the Malizia II, encountered rough seas that slowed it down for a day. Taking turns steering the 60-foot (18-meter) racing yacht were yachtsman Boris Herrmann and Pierre Casiraghi, the grandson of Monaco’s late Prince Rainier III and American actress Grace Kelly.

Inscribed on the boat’s sail are the words “FridaysForFuture” under “UNITE BEHIND THE SCIENCE.”

This was no pleasure cruise. The Malizia is built for high-speed, offshore racing, and weight is kept to a minimum. There is no toilet or fixed shower aboard, no windows below deck and only a small gas cooker to heat up freeze-dried food.

The sailboat’s onboard electronics are powered by solar panels and underwater turbines.

Thunberg, the daughter of an actor and an opera singer, became a European celebrity last year when she refused to go to school in the weeks before Sweden’s general election to highlight the impact of climate change.

She continued her school strike on Fridays after the election, spurring thousands of young people to follow suit. Since then, she’s met the pope, spoken at Davos and attended anti-coal protests in Germany.

She is now taking a year off school to pursue her activism.

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Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Washington.

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