Greta, don’t sink the green message

Greta, don’t sink the green message

Sweden’s teenage climate change campaigner, Greta Thunberg, is now well on her way to New York, aboard the carbon-neutral racing yacht generously provided by a member of Monaco’s royal family.

She’ll be speaking at a United Nations climate conference where, doubtless, politicians — few, if any of whom, will have travelled there on a latrine-free vessel — will be lining up to be photographed with her.

From there, she’ll be taking her message — presumably using vehicles that are to a greater or lesser extent greenhouse gas-emitting — throughout North and South America. Celebrity status and a good cause have given her a free pass at school.

Had she, it’s fair to ask, considered the pesky but pertinent quibbles that have surfaced around her steerage-class ocean crossing from Plymouth to New York? Ms Thunberg did not get from Sweden to England by walking, running, cycling, or swimming.

The non-carbon yacht will be sailed back to Europe by crew who will fly to New York to get it. Could she have journeyed to the US on a cargo ship, which are said to be less polluting than cruise ships and planes? Was her journey really necessary, since there is Skype?

Will she return at the end of the year, when the Atlantic will not be as passive as it was when she went?

Greta and those around her ought to think seriously about the extent to which their headline-grabbing publicity exploits can dilute the message they send to people who are unable to borrow yachts from Monaco’s royals and who can’t see why they shouldn’t fly to the Med for a week or two in the sun.

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