23 September 2019

Pentland Centre Director, Professor Gail Whiteman, has joined leading scientists to present a sobering message to the United Nations on climate change and ecological destruction.

The group say urgent global action is needed in the next decade to avoid the catastrophic effects of environmental pressures now at a Planetary Emergency Level.

Professor Whiteman is one of a group of scientists who contributed to the Planetary Emergency Plan in New York.

The event, hosted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and attended by a number of heads of state, took place during the United Nations Climate Action Summit and as part of Climate Week NYC. The Club of Rome – an organisation made up of current and former heads of state, UN bureaucrats, scientists and business leaders from around the world, among others – and Potsdam Institute (PIK) made the presentation.

Professor Whiteman contributed to their report, which calls for a decade of action from 2020 to address the global climate emergency and guarantee the long-term health of the planet and its population. It includes a call for 10 commitments – from setting targets to moderate deforestation to restoring ecosystems, from halting the conversion of wetlands and grassland to agricultural purposes to a moratorium on developing Arctic oil and gas reserves.

Professor Whiteman said: “Pressure on Earth systems has reached a point where the impacts constitute a global emergency. Urgent action cannot be delayed, and the immediate establishment of a Planetary Emergency Fund is essential.”

Professor Whiteman will also play a leading role at a reception in New York on Wednesday, when Hollywood actor/producer/director Rainn Wilson, star of the US version of The Office, will interview her in her role as the Arctic Basecamp founder.

For the past three years, the Arctic Basecamp team – made up of Arctic experts and scientists – have camped out at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, in Davos, Switzerland, where they deliver their urgent climate change message to some of the world’s most powerful political and business leaders.

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg – also in New York this week on the back of the worldwide student #ClimateStrike campaign she began last year – camped and spoke at the Arctic Basecamp this year.

Wednesday’s event, held in conjunction with Hub Culture, will be attended by guests from the global climate community.

A spotlight on the Arctic during the Climate Week is critical given that this region is warming at twice the rate of the global average and is a key indicator of the Planetary Emergency. Professor Whiteman added: “The Arctic is a key barometer of global risk and the effects of the climate emergency on the region carry significant economic risks worldwide.”

You can follow the events on social media @GenerationCO2 and @ArcticBasecamp