23 January 2018 13:42

A team of Arctic scientists - including Professor Gail Whiteman, creator of the Arctic Basecamp and Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University - are gathering in Davos to highlight climate change in the Arctic and Antarctica.

They will also demonstrate the latest scientific advances in measuring environmental damage in two of the world’s most remote and climatically important regions.

At Global Goals Arctic Basecamp, the scientists will demonstrate, without doubt, that climate change is real, is happening now,  and that humans are largely responsible. This coincides with WEF launching its annual Global Risks Report which has highlighted ‘extreme weather’ as the number one Global Risk.

The Global Goals Arctic Basecamp at Davos has four key objectives: to present state-of-the art research showing the dramatic changes occurring in the Arctic, to explain how these changes impact Arctic and non-Arctic countries alike; to outline the global economic risks related to Arctic change; and to showcase solutions and opportunities by way of inspiring action amongst the world leaders and top decision-makers at Davos.

Arctic change carries profound global risks for the world’s societies, economies and industry sectors such as agriculture, insurance, infrastructure and shipping. Arctic change requires urgent action from world leaders and top decision-makers, and underscores the need to raise global ambitions during 2018 in line with the Paris Agreement. If urgent action isn’t taken, the threats to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are extremely high –moreover, a 2°C rise globally would mean up to a 5°C increase across the Arctic.

The scientists, who are leading researchers from around the world, will be based at the Global Goals Arctic Basecamp at Davos, a creative and immersive environment that will give attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest technology solutions that are reducing carbon emissions.

The Basecamp initiative draws on research from Mission2020, a global campaign to accelerate action on climate change so we can reach a turning point on GHG emissions by 2020, and create the conditions in which all of the SDGs can be sustainably achieved for everyone.

Inside the basecamp tents, the researchers will set up scientific equipment such as sensors, buoys and probes that they use in their fieldwork in the Arctic marine environment. Screens will show a live link-up to the Rothera Research station, the UK’s largest research station in Antarctica, speaking directly to the winter station leader, Dr Jess Walkup. The scientists will carry out live demonstrations with 700-year-old ice core samples to show audiences how tiny air bubbles reveal our past climate history.

Gail Whiteman, creator of the Arctic Basecamp and Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University, said: “Despite the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Arctic science clearly shows that the world needs to take deeper and bolder actions today in order to get the healthy, clean, sustainable future we need. We set up the Arctic Basecamp at Davos in order to communicate to world leaders the significant global economic and social risks from Arctic change, and the urgent need to bend the emissions curve by 2020. The fact that such a significant number of Arctic scientists have gathered here at the WEF reflects this urgency and we hope that our partnership with Mission2020 and Global Goals ensures that low carbon solutions are driven by rigorous scientific evidence: we bring the facts, they bring the answers.”

Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and convener of Mission2020, said: “The science sends one clear message: urgency, urgency, urgency. We have a golden opportunity between now and 2020 to step up our ambition and speed up our action on climate change. In service of our beautiful Arctic, in service of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, let’s turn the tide of emissions by 2020 so that everyone can prosper.”

Jeremy Wilkinson, Senior Glaciologist at British Antarctic Survey said: “The science is unequivocal. Arctic change is progressing rapidly and these changes will impact us all. It is great to see the prominent role scientists are playing in influencing the political and business agenda at WEF and around the world. Scientists must continue to develop these essential relationships, and ensure they provide access to the latest research which must underpin decisions that shift the world to a low-carbon economy.”

Richard Curtis, filmmaker and founder of Project Everyone, added: “Accelerating actions on the climate goals as set out in the Paris agreement is the only way to limit global warming and ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals remain within our reach. We’ve brought Arctic basecamp to Davos to reinforce the message that this is urgent. We need speed and we need everyone – businesses, politicians, scientists and activists - to get involved.”

The scientists at the Global Goals Arctic Basecamp will include:

Gail Whiteman, Professor-in-Residence at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Rubin Chair and Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University, UK

Jeremy Wilkinson, Senior Glaciologist at British Antarctic Survey, UK

Bruce Forbes, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Lapland, Finland

Jennifer Francis, Research Professor with the Rutgers Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, USA

Craig Lee, Professor and Senior Principal Oceanographer at the University of Washington, USA

Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Chair of the Arctic Council’s Resilience Assessment report, Sweden

Konrad Steffen, Director of the Swiss Federal Research Institute and a Professor in Climate and Cryosphere at the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering at EPF-Lausanne, Switzerland

Julienne Stroeve, Senior Research Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and Professor at UCL, USA and UK

Jan-Gunnar Winther, Specialist Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway