Hollywood star joins Lancaster University Professor in delivering climate change message in Davos


From left: Brigette Hanson, Hart Hanson, Rainn Wilson, Professor Gail Whiteman and Sigurður Freyr Björnsson on the Isua Glacier in Greenland
From left: Brigette Hanson, Hart Hanson, Rainn Wilson, Professor Gail Whiteman and Sigurður Freyr Björnsson on the Isua Glacier in Greenland

One of American TV’s best-known faces will join up with a Lancaster University scientist to deliver a vital climate change message to some of the world’s most powerful figures.

Rainn Wilson, star of the US version of The Office, blockbuster action movie The Meg, and sci-fi TV series Star Trek: Discovery, will attend the Arctic Basecamp in Davos, Switzerland, with Professor Gail Whiteman, Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business in Lancaster University Management School.

Writing on Twitter ahead of his trip to Switzerland, Rainn said: “I’m going to Davos, Switzerland for the WorldEconomicForum. Billionaires arriving in their jets & staying at 5star hotels. I’m staying in a stinky tent with some climate scientists from @ArcticBasecamp.”

Arctic Basecamp, a unique science-solution outreach platform, is returning to the World Economic Forum Annual Summit in Davos for a fourth year to demand urgent action on climate change from political and business leaders.

Co-organised with Dr Jeremy Wilkinson, from British Antarctic Survey, Arctic Basecamp at Davos will highlight the global dangers associated with the changing Arctic region. Last year, climate change activist Greta Thunberg and superstar singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding both attended the Basecamp, along with global business leaders and climate policy expert Christiana Figueres. Greta and her father also camped with the Arctic Basecamp team for a night.

At the end of last year, Rainn and Professor Whiteman, along with Professor David Hik, of Simon Fraser University, in Canada, and a videographer, travelled to Greenland and Iceland. They spent a week in the two countries, encountering the effects of climate first-hand on a trip to the Arctic.

Professor Whiteman, the founder of Arctic Basecamp, who will travel to Davos from her Lancaster home by train to reduce her carbon footprint, said: “One of the greatest threats facing the planet when it comes to climate change is what happens in the Arctic.

“This last year has seen an increase in the global voice speaking out against climate change and demanding action to stop it. At Arctic Basecamp, our mission is to speak science to power. We partner with external stakeholders who have viable solutions and can communicate the threats and opportunities to be found in a low-carbon economy.

“Our presence at the World Economic Forum is critical for ensuring world leaders tackle this issue seriously. The potentially dire consequences of climate inaction are there for all to see with the bushfires that have ravaged Australia.”

In addition to the series of activities at Arctic Basecamp at Davos, Professor Whiteman will be the science speaker at a World Economic session, “What’s at Stake: The Arctic”, inside the Congress Centre on Wednesday, January 22. Panellists will include Finnish Prime Minister Sanne Marin, and former United States Vice-President Al Gore. The event will be livestreamed.

This year, for the first time, Arctic Basecamp will be welcoming youth climate delegates from around the world to the Arctic Basecamp Youth Tent. Youth delegates from Brazil, China, Greenland, the Marshall Islands, Uganda, USA, and the UK will be among those attending.

 

“We need to unite the voices of these youth climate activists with scientific voices to ensure the message on climate change is heard loud and clear by all those attending Davos,” added Professor Whiteman.

Arctic Basecamp is only possible through sponsorship contributions from some of the world’s most innovative and responsible organisations. This year, BNP Paribas, X (The Moonshot Factory), WWF and The Fort Foundation are all major sponsors.

 

Rod Downie, Chief Polar Adviser at WWF-UK, said: “The science is clear – the Arctic is melting, putting its people and wildlife on the frontline of the climate crisis, with massive implications for the rest of the planet too 

 

“Business leaders in Davos and policymakers across the world must act with urgency and integrity, to secure our planet’s future. That means rapid and deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and using nature as part of the solution to tackle the climate crisis.”

 

The Fort Foundation said: “The effects of climate change are going to have catastrophic consequences – yet global action to address the situation is alarmingly pedestrian. Every effort to pressure decision-making leaders should be supported, and the World Economic Forum is a perfect opportunity.

“The Fort Foundation is keen to lend strength to the Arctic Basecamp and grateful for the efforts of the team in pressing for an immediate and positive response to the situation.”

Antoine Sire, head of company engagement at BNP Paribas, said: “Being the bank for a changing world means funding the transition to a more decarbonised, sustainable economy; facilitating responsible growth; and acting as the bridge and trusted adviser between companies and investors, many of them at Davos.

 

“We are proud to support the Arctic Basecamp initiative that aims to raise awareness of the challenges ahead – and lead the change.”

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