Greta Thunberg sets off for the US on carbon neutral yacht, but says she doesn't expect to win over Donald Trump

Jamie Johnson
Ms Thunberg waved from the yacht as she set off from Plymouth on Wednesday afternoon - AFP

Greta Thunberg has said she doesn't expect to win over Donald Trump to her climate change campaign as she embarked on a two week carbon neutral journey across the Atlantic from Plymouth to New York.

Before setting off, the 16-year-old Swede said she would simply “ignore” climate sceptics and that “there are always going to be people who don't understand or accept the united science.”

At a blustery marina in Plymouth, Thunberg said that she was excited about her two week voyage on board the 60ft racing yacht Malizia II, and that despite feeling seasick on a test sail, she is “excited to see what happens.”

There is no fridge, no heating and no washing facility on the boat. For ablutions, there is a blue bucket marked ‘poos here please’. But the 16-year-old Swede couldn’t be happier.

Ms Thunberg waved from the yacht as she set off from Plymouth on Wednesday afternoon Credit: Ben Stansall/AFP

Travelling with her father Svante, two experienced skippers and a documentary maker, Thunberg says she has only packed a box of freeze-dried vegan meals, eight writing journals, some books and no change of clothes.

Thunberg is travelling to New York, where she will speak at the UN climate summit on September 23 and then spend a number of months travelling around the Americas, raising awareness of the climate crisis.

Today, she told The Telegraph that she didn’t believe that President Trump would listen to her. 

Thunberg's supporter's gathered at Devil's Point, Plymouth this afternoon Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

“If no-one else has succeeded, I’m not that special. I can’t convince everyone, so instead of speaking to me and to the school striking children and teenagers, he should be talking to actual scientists and experts in this area,” she said.

On climate sceptics, she added: "There's always going to be people who don't understand or accept the united science, and I will just ignore them, as I'm only acting and communicating on the science."

Thunberg clutched a metal re-usable water bottle as she boarded the Malizia II this afternoon. The boat is captained by Boris Hermann, a 38-year-old German who has sailed it around the world.

It reportedly cost more than £4m to build and has solar panels and underwater turbines to generate the electricity needed to power the instruments on board. 

There is an emergency combustion engine, in accordance with maritime safety measures, but there are no plans to use it.

Thunberg is being joined on the voyage by her father, Svante, Pierre Casiraghi, head of the Malizia II racing team and the grandson of Monaco's late Prince Ranier III and actress Grace Kelly, as well as Swedish documentary filmmaker Nathan Grossman.

The boat left Plymouth just after 3pm to crowds of wellwishers on the marina pontoons and along the shoreline.

Thunberg, still only 16 years old, began protesting outside the Swedish parliament just a year ago, demanding immediate action to combat climate change after the most severe wildfires in the country’s history.

Her movement, dubbed: “school strike for the climate” captured public attention, and by March this year, some 1.4m students at schools in 112 countries across the world were walking out of lessons on Fridays in order to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

Greta Thunberg and German yachtsman Boris Herrmann in a press conference for her trip to New York Credit: ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/REX

The trailblazing teen has spent the summer crossing Europe by train in a bid to spread her message, telling world leaders in Davos: “I want you to act like the house is on fire. Because it is.”

She received a round of applause from British MPs when visiting parliament in April and has had audiences with Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

While the transatlantic crossing will be a test of endurance, Thunberg has faced many personal challenges already in her short life. Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and selective mutism, the teenager suffered from depression earlier in her childhood.

“I’ve had my fair share of depressions, alienation, anxiety and disorders,” she wrote on Facebook recently. 

“But without my diagnosis, I would never have started school striking. Because then I would have been like everyone else.”

Now, after being listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019, she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and would become its youngest ever winner, if she is chosen in October.