Greta Thunberg is coming home.
It’s been three months since the 16-year-old activist first set sail on a zero-emissions yacht from England to New York. Since then she’s driven to climate protests all over the US and Canada in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s electric car; delivered her urgent message of action on the ecological emergency to world leaders; and led a historic international strike with millions of young people.
But before she departed Chesapeake Bay in southern Virginia on Wednesday to travel once more across the Atlantic, Thunberg had one more vital message for the world: vote.
Next year, the American people will head to the ballot box as US President Donald Trump seeks a second term in office. Meanwhile, the UK faces a general election next month on Dec. 12.
“My message to the Americans is the same as to everyone — that is to unite behind the science and to act on the science,” Thunberg told the Guardian on Tuesday.
“We must realize this is a crisis, and we must do what we can now to spread awareness about this and to put pressure on the people in power,” she added. “And especially, the US has an election coming up soon, and it’s very important that for everyone who can vote, vote.”
So happy to say that I'll hopefully make it to COP25 in Madrid. I’ve been offered a ride from Virginia on the 48ft catamaran La Vagabonde. The Australians @riley.whitelum , @elayna.carausu & @_nikkihenderson from England will take me across the Atlantic. We sail for Europe tomorrow morning!
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is now less than 11 years to go to prevent irreversible damage to the world’s climate. By the time the next elections are scheduled in the US and the UK in 2024, that timeframe will be reduced to just six years — or, essentially, just one more full presidential term or parliamentary session before time runs out.
Therefore these upcoming elections may very well be the last chance each country has to step up and take definitive action on the climate crisis. We’re approaching a crossroads — and Thunberg has urged those who have the ability to vote in these crucial moments to take their chance.
“Even if the politics needed doesn’t exist today, we still need to use our voices to make sure that the people in power are focused on the right things,” Thunberg said. “Because this is a democracy, and in a democracy, people are the ones who run the country. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but if enough people were to decide they have had enough, then that could change everything. So don’t underestimate that power.”
Thunberg admitted to feeling homesick. She told the Guardian that she missed her family, her school — and Moses and Roxy, her golden retriever and black labrador. But before she returns to Sweden, she first sails to Madrid, Spain, for the 25th United Nations Climate Change Convention on Dec. 2.
Timing will be tight: The journey is expected to take around three weeks, depending on the weather. The conference was initially set to be hosted by Chile, but months of civil unrest forced the country to withdraw. Thunberg is now racing against the clock.
After posting a plea on social media for help getting home, Thunberg was invited aboard a catamaran powered by solar panels and hydro-generators run by YouTube stars Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu. The famous couple travel the world with their baby — and will be joined on the vessel by Thunberg’s father and professional British sailor Nikki Henderson too.
You can register to vote in the UK’s election here. You’re eligible to vote if you’re a UK citizen over the age of 18 — or an Irish, EU, or Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address. The deadline to register is Nov. 26.