Science

Greta Thunberg mobbed as she arrives in Madrid for climate change meeting

The Swedish teenager noted the media attention in an ironic tweet.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in Madrid to join thousands of other young people in a march to demand world leaders take real action against climate change.

After making it through a swarm of media cameras and microphones at the Spanish capital’s northern train station, the Swedish teenager posted an ironic tweet saying that she had “successfully managed to sneak into Madrid”.

“I don’t think anyone saw me…,” she added.

“Anyway it’s great to be in Spain!”

Madrid is hosting two-week, United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at streamlining the rules on global carbon markets and agreeing on how poor countries should be compensated for destruction largely caused by emissions from rich nations.

The talks came as scientific evidence mounts about disasters that could ensue from further global warming, including a study commissioned by 14 seafaring nations due to be published Friday predicting that unchecked climate change could devastate fishery industries and coral reef tourism.

Greta paid a surprise visit to the venue of the talks and joined a group of some 40 teens staging a sit-in there to demand real action against climate change.

Holding hands, the teens sang a version of John Lennon’s Power To The People and displayed banners with the logo of Fridays for Future, the global climate movement inspired by Greta.

Portugal Thunberg Climate Talks
Climate activist Greta Thunberg boards a Madrid bound train at Santa Apolonia station in Lisbon (Armando Franca/AP)

Greta did not appear unsettled by the commotion surrounding her presence.

“It’s absurd. I laugh at it. I do not understand why it has become like this,” the 16-year-old was quoted as saying by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, whose reporter rode with them in an electric car in Madrid.

“I don’t like being at the centre of the focus all the time, but this is a good thing,” she told Aftonbladet.

“As soon as the media writes about me, they also have to write about the climate crisis.

“If this is a way to write about the climate crisis, then I guess it is good.”

While Greta seemed bemused by the attention, her father Svante was startled, saying it was “total madness”.

“I have never seen anything like this,” he told Aftonbladet.

The study commissioned by seafaring nations says climate change could cause hundreds of billions of dollars in losses by 2050, adding that limiting global warming would lessen the economic impact for coastal countries, but that they also need to adapt to ocean changes.

Spain Thunberg Climate Talks
Climate activist Greta Thunberg (Andrea Comas?AP)

The presence in Madrid of Greta is expected to shift the attention to demands for greater action by non-governmental organisations and a whole new generation of environment-minded activists.

Past appearances have won her plaudits from some leaders — and criticism from others who’ve taken offence at the angry tone of her speeches.

An advocate for carbon-free transportation, Greta travelled by train overnight from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, where she arrived earlier this week after sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States by catamaran.

That became necessary after a sudden change of venue for the COP25 summit following a wave of anti-government protests that hit Chile, the original host.

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