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Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg sails into New York on zero-emission voyage from England

A 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who crossed the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat to attend a conference on global warming approached New York City's shores today.

Greta Thunberg and her crew were expected to arrive at a lower Manhattan marina in the afternoon after a two-week crossing from Plymouth, England.

As the social media-savvy teenager approached New York Harbor before dawn, she tweeted her excitement, saying: "Land!! The lights of Long Island and New York City ahead." The vessel then anchored off Coney Island, so those aboard could go through customs and immigration procedures.

Before setting sail again toward Manhattan, Thunberg waved to nearby boats, including one with journalists tracking her arrival.

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg waves from the Malizia II boat in Plymouth, England. Source: Associated Press

The teenager refused to fly because of the carbon emissions plane travel entails. The sailboat's onboard electronics are powered by solar panels and underwater turbines.

Thunberg has become a symbol of a growing movement of young climate activists, leading weekly protests in Sweden that focused on the issue and that inspired similar strikes in about 100 cities worldwide.

She's in New York to speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit next month. There, she'll join world leaders who will present plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The boat carrying Thunberg, the Malizia II, encountered rough seas that slowed it down for a day. Taking turns steering the 18-metre racing yacht were yachtsman Boris Herrmann and Pierre Casiraghi, the grandson of Monaco's late Prince Rainier III and American actress Grace Kelly.

Inscribed on the boat's sail are the words "FridaysForFuture" under "UNITE BEHIND THE SCIENCE."

This was no pleasure cruise. The Malizia is built for high-speed, offshore racing, and weight is kept to a minimum. There is no toilet or fixed shower aboard, no windows below deck and only a small gas cooker to heat up freeze-dried food.

Thunberg, the daughter of an actor and an opera singer, became a European celebrity last year when she refused to go to school in the weeks before Sweden's general election to highlight the impact of climate change.

Greta Thunberg, 16, a Swedish environmental activist, sails into New York harbor aboard the Malizia II Source: Associated Press

She continued her school strike on Fridays after the election, spurring thousands of young people to follow suit. Since then, she's met the pope, spoken at Davos and attended anti-coal protests in Germany.

She is now taking a year off school to pursue her activism.

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The voyage is to highlight the need for action on climate change. Source: Breakfast