17 January 2020
A Lancaster University professor is following the example of youth climate activist Greta Thunberg when she travels to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland by train.

Professor Gail Whiteman, Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business in Lancaster University Management School, is making the trip to Davos to lead the Arctic Basecamp.

She is travelling by train to reduce her carbon footprint, before delivering a vital climate change message to some of the world’s most powerful business and political figures at the WEF.

Arctic Basecamp is a unique science-solution outreach platform, where scientists – joined this year by youth climate delegates from around the world in the Arctic Basecamp Youth Tent – aim to educate WEF attendees about the global risks from Arctic change and demand urgent action on climate change.

Professor Whiteman, the founder of Arctic Basecamp, said: “As well as delivering our message on climate change to people with the power to enact change on a national and international level, I felt it was important to set a positive example and reduce my own carbon footprint while travelling to Arctic Basecamp.

“It might have been quicker and easier to fly to Switzerland, but we all have to recognise the impact of our actions, and flying rather than taking the train would have had a significantly greater effect on the planet.

“Greta Thunberg, who joined us at Arctic Basecamp last year, has set an example for climate change scientists and activists in refusing to fly –even crossing the Atlantic in a yacht – and I felt it was my duty to the planet to follow that example when coming to Davos.

“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.”

Professor Whiteman will travel to Davos with her sons Max, 17, and Brix, 15, who will serve as volunteers at the Arctic Basecamp site. The trio will leave Lancaster on Thursday, travelling via London, Paris and Zurich. They will be travelling between Paris and Zurich on Friday, when the regular global school strikes, inspired by climate change activist Greta, will take place.

Max and Brix will join youth climate change activists from Brazil, China, Greenland, the Marshall Islands, Uganda, USA in the Arctic Basecamp Youth Tent.

Max said: “Climate change has been at the center of my life for most of my teenage years. I have spent countless hours thinking why we let it get this far out of hand and why our world leaders can’t accept the legitimacy of climate change and its catastrophic effects. Our globe is warming and it’s time to act. Arctic Basecamp will give me the opportunity to do just that.”

Brix said: “Arctic Basecamp is the opportunity of a lifetime. It allows a seemingly voiceless teenager like me to help drive the slow but promising movement to thrust through a broken system and reform a broken world.”

Dr Christopher Pyle, head of Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where Max is a student, said: “I am delighted that Max has this exceptional opportunity to take part in Arctic Basecamp at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and wish him every success there.

“It is inspiring to see young people engaging with scientific research as they help to shape environmental policy and opinion. I know many pupils and staff at LRGS will be very interested to learn about from this unique experience when he returns from Davos."

Brix is a pupil at Dallam School, and executive head teacher Ms Julie O’Connor said: “This is an opportunity for Brix to represent Dallam’s youth leadership ethos and indeed our science department in Davos.

“His voice, in rallying the way young people think about global warming will, I’m sure, be an inspiration to his peers as an Arctic Basecamp youth volunteer and we will look forward to hearing about his experiences on his return to Dallam.”

As well as the youth activists, Arctic Basecamp will also welcome Rainn Wilson, star of the US version of The Office, blockbuster action movie The Meg, and sci-fi TV series Star Trek: Discovery, to their camp this year.

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.

You can follow Arctic Basecamp on Twitter @ArcticBasecamp