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Greta Thunberg late to COP 25 climate meeting in Madrid, still sailing across Atlantic

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 2/12/2019
a group of people standing next to a body of water: Greta Thunberg accepted the lift from the couple. From left, Elayna Carausu with baby Lenny, Ms Thunberg, British sailor Nikki Henderson and Riley Whitelum as they prepare to set sail. (Facebook: Sailing La Vagabonde) © Provided by ABC NEWS Greta Thunberg accepted the lift from the couple. From left, Elayna Carausu with baby Lenny, Ms Thunberg, British sailor Nikki Henderson and Riley Whitelum as they prepare to set sail. (Facebook: Sailing La Vagabonde)

Greta Thunberg is running late to the COP 25 climate meeting in Madrid, Spain, after hitching a ride with an Australian couple travelling the world by boat so she would make it on time.

Ms Thunberg broke the news of her late arrival to the conference of the parties on Monday: "We're speeding towards Europe!

"Estimated time of arrival right now is Tuesday morning [local time]. We'll be arriving at Doca de Alcantara, Lisbon. We are all looking forward to see you there!"

The first day of the conference, slated to run until December 13, saw UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres declare "the point of no return is no longer over the horizon".

Mr Guterres warned: "In the crucial 12 months ahead, it is essential that we secure more ambitious national commitments — particularly from the main emitters — to immediately start reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a pace consistent to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

"We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions."

Pictures: Things to know about teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg

The summit, which moved to the Spanish capital Madrid after Chile had to pull out amid anti-government protests, aims to put the finishing touches to the rules governing the 2015 Paris accord.

That involves creating a functioning international emissions-trading system and compensating poor countries for losses they suffer from rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.

The annual Conference of the Parties is usually an important assessment of where the world stands on climate change.

For the past 25 years, negotiators from almost 200 countries have gathered to try to advance a global strategy for tackling rising temperatures.

Countries agreed in Paris four years ago to limit global warming to well below 2C, ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times.

Already, average temperatures have increased by about 1C, leaving little room for the more ambitious target to be met.

Ms Thunberg had travelled from Sweden to California by boat, train and electric car and was on track to attend the next round of climate negotiations in Santiago until the meetings were moved to Madrid and she was forced to find a way to get to Europe.

The country had backed out of hosting the COP 25 due to weeks of anti-government protests.

The 16-year-old tweeted from Los Angeles at the time: "As #COP25 has officially been moved from Santiago to Madrid I'll need some help."

"It turns out I've travelled half around the world, the wrong way. Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November … If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful."

Days later, Ms Thunberg posted to her Instagram again saying she had accepted the offer of couple Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu and their son Lenny to make the trip to Europe on their 48-foot catamaran called La Vagabonde.

The teen climate activist refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions involved.

ABC/AP

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