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Activists sail to Chile from Amsterdam, following Greta Thunberg’s footsteps

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An activist works on the sailboat before departing for COP25.
An activist works on the sailboat before departing for COP25.

Image: Romy Arroyo Fernandez/Getty Images

By Siobhan Neela-Stock

Greta Thunberg inspired a wave of strikes against climate change and now, other activists are following the Swedish teenager’s lead and ditching planes.

A group of environmental activists, students, and entrepreneurs is sailing to Chile from Amsterdam for the U.N. climate change conference COP25. The journey began on Oct. 2. and should last about seven weeks, according to the organization, Sail to the Cop’s, website. This follows Greta Thunberg’s journey on a sailboat from the UK to New York City this summer for the U.N. Climate Action Summit.

“The sail trip is part of a year long (media) campaign for policy change at national and international level,” the organization states on their website. “The aim is to make the transport playing field more equal. We want to make it easier, more affordable, and more attractive to choose sustainable travel options like going by train, bus, and bike.”

During the trip, the group hopes to create a list of demands that they can eventually present at COP25.

“We really want to make a statement that we have to stop subsidizing the aviation sector and we have to start investing in these alternatives,” 18-year-old climate activist Anuna De Wever, told the Guardian.

Indeed, levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are rising quickly, and slashing emissions is essential to curb the planet’s warming. The airline industry is a significant part of the problem: In the U.S. for example, airliners are responsible for 12 percent of the nation’s transportation emissions.

You can track their travels here, though the tracker is dependent on the sailboat’s proximity to the shore. 

“The climate and ecological crisis is demanding a fast shift to a just and sustainable transport system,” the group’s site explains. “It should be easy, affordable and attractive to travel without damaging the planet.”

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