Spain’s environment minister has promised that the government will help Greta Thunberg cross the Atlantic in time to attend the upcoming UN climate talks after a last-minute change in venue left the 16-year-old stranded on the wrong side of the world.
“Dear Greta, it would be great to have you here in Madrid,” the minister, Teresa Ribera, said on Twitter. “You’ve made a long journey and help all of us to raise concern, open minds and enhance action. We would love to help you to cross the Atlantic back.”
The 16-year-old, who refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions involved and had already made it halfway from Sweden to Chile for the summit by boat, train and electric car when the new venue was announced, turned to social media to ask for a lift to Madrid.
“It turns out I’ve travelled half around the world, the wrong way:)…If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful,” she tweeted from Los Angeles.
Spain has stepped in to host the COP25 climate summit in December after Chile abandoned plans to hold it due to
deadly anti-government protests.
Some 25,000 delegates had been expected in Chile for COP 25, including teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
“We are pleased to announce the COP Bureau has agreed that COP25 will take place from 2-13 December in Madrid,” United Nations climate chief Patricia Espinosa said on Twitter on Friday.
Following more than 10 days of street protests, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said Thursday his country was not in a position to host either the December 2-13 climate convention or the November 16-17 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
“This has been a very difficult decision, a decision that has been deeply painful because we know exactly how important APEC and COP are for Chile and the world,” said Pinera.
He added that Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had offered to host the COP 25 climate summit in Madrid on the originally scheduled dates.
In a tweet Sanchez, who is gearing up for a repeat general election on November 10th, called Espinosa’s announcement that Madrid would host the event “excellent news”, adding Spain was already working to prepare the gathering.
Harjeet Singh of environmental group ActionAid International said moving the summit from Chile to Spain “with only four weeks’ notice presents real barriers to participation” for delegates from the southern hemisphere.
“Hotels in Madrid are already full. Last-minute flights are expensive. Visas can be difficult to obtain at short notice. This sudden decision is likely to shift the balance of power towards the wealthier countries of the global North,” he added in a statement.