If you fly from Stockholm to Davos, a small town in the Swiss Alps where the World Economic Forum is taking place this week, it will take you about two hours. For Greta Thunberg, who is attending the Davos forum as as a guest speaker however, there was no alternative but to take the train, since she has given up flying because of the fossil fuel planes burn.
So the world-famous 16-year-old climate activist took the night train with her father, 49-year-old Svante Thunberg and some PR staff. By train, it was a day and night journey of over 30 hours. And a few days later they will make the return trip.
Meanwhile, in Davis, Greta is the talk of the town and the toast of all the VIP parties. She met Al Gore, took some photos with him. She met Bono the Irish singer. Later in the week she will meet the Pope in Rome and talk to him privately about climate change. Earlier in the week in Stockholm, she met Jesse Jackson on the set of a TV talk show.
This is one small girl with the entire world cheering for her now. Her parents are delighted. And good for Greta, she’s making waves.
On the train, the train crew upgraded her ticket to first class. And fellow passengers, young and old, recognized her and waved hello.
“It is obviously fun that people have been inspired by my ‘school strike for climate’ and the news it made,” she told a Swedish reporter on the train. “In a way, it is hopeful to see so many people getting involved in the climate issue. It shows that if we decide to take the climate crisis seriously, we can do something fast real.”
As readers know, Greta was invited to the United Nations COP24 climate summit in Katowice, Poland, not far from Auschwitz, where she gave a speech to the world’s leaders, saying: “You have ignored us before and you will ignore us again. But change comes, whether you like it or not.”
The meeting in Poland was inspiring but also a a bit of a disappointment, she told a TV talk show host in Stockholm.
“Too much talk, too little action,” she said on TV. “During lunch, the participants ate meat hamburgers in the dining room. No one seemed to care about climate issues. The engagement did not seem genuine, and the world leaders were in some ways hypocrites.”
When asked by a Swedish reporter before arriving in Davos how her climate activity has changed her, she said: “Well, for one thing, I’ve got more energy. I have selective mutism, which means I only talk when I think it is necessary. In the past I just talked to my family, but now I have started talking to other people. I’ve healed myself, somehow.”
Greta no longer flies and she has convinced her mom and dad to stop flying, too.
“That one person stops flying makes no difference, of course, but that a person stops flying and inspires others to do the same, and sends the signal that we are in crisis, that is advocacy and it can make a difference,” the little pigtailed ball of charisma and charm says.
Back in Sweden, on social media, some people have criticized her and her mother and the adults around her for “instrumentalizing’ her. But Greta takes it all in stride.
“There will always be naysayers,” she says, philosophically. “I’m a Swede, and they’re Swedes, but some of them must always have something to criticize. If there is nothing, they will find something. Now they are saying my global success is due to a paid public relations agency that is behind my commitment, or that my famous leftwing show biz parents have brainwashed me, or that some someone has paid for me cash to do all this. It’s ridiculous.”
So the $64,000 question: What will Greta be doing in ten years, in 2029?
“I will probably keep doing this, but hopefully I will not have to do it then, but that would be because the climate issue has been solved already by 2029, and I will be one happy camper,” she said with an impish smile.
Bono, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, the Pope. Selfies with the rich and famous in Davos. This is the little engine that could.
Let’s hope for a happy ending.