Greta Thunberg arrives in Madrid in time for huge climate protest

Swedish teen eco-warrior Greta Thunberg was met by a crowd of supporters as her train reached Madrid’s Chamartin station on Friday morning ahead of a climate protest taking place in the Spanish capital.

Greta Thunberg arrives in Madrid in time for huge climate protest
Photos: AFP

Thunberg, who had taken the train from Lisbon ten hours earlier, was escorted out of the station by Spanish police as reporters and fans gathered around her.

The impassioned teen activist had refused to take a plane from the Portuguese capital as part of her reluctance to contribute to high carbon emission transport, a policy which also saw her take a three-week journey across the Atlantic by catamaran to reach Madrid from South America. 

It remains unclear whether she will be attending the COP25 UN climate summit currently taking place in the Spanish capital, but she has confirmed her participation at a five-kilometre climate march in Madrid called “The world has woken up to the climate emergency”, which tens of thousands of activists are expected to join.

Thunberg, 16, has become the face of young peoples' demands for climate action and made a point of making the journey back from September's New York climate summit by sea rather than fuel-guzzling plane.

She had expected to be heading for Chile, but the South American nation passed the hosting of the COP25 summit meeting to Spain after suffering a spate of violent anti-government protests.

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Spanish EU diplomat apologises for ‘Greta syndrome’ comments

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday apologised for comments questioning the sincerity of young climate protesters and joking that they have "Greta syndrome".

Spanish EU diplomat apologises for 'Greta syndrome' comments
Photo: AFP

Borrell triggered the row by saying he believed school students had been galvanised by teen Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg without fully realising the costs they would have to bear to ensure a carbon-neutral future.

It “can be called 'Greta syndrome',” Borrell, 72, had said during a meeting at the European Parliament on Wednesday.

The Greens grouping of MEPs in the European Parliament criticised Borrell, tweeting that his comments “are unacceptable for a representative of the EU”.

On Saturday, Borrell said he had not meant to offend.

“I want to apologise to anyone that may have felt offended by my inappropriate reference to the important youth movement fighting #climatechange,” he tweeted in English.

The Commission has made tackling climate change the centrepiece of its action, pledging to spend billions of euros a year towards its Green Deal with the goal of making the EU climate change neutral by 2050.