Professor Gail Whiteman 'brings the Arctic to Glasgow'. Photo: Steve Welsh
Greenland iceberg delivered to COP26 summit alongside ‘ice-cold bottled warning’ to world leaders
An iceberg has been delivered to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, in a powerful statement to world leaders of the scale of the climate crisis and a visible reminder of what Arctic warming means for the planet.
The four ton block of ice, originally part of a larger glacier, was brought from Greenland to Glasgow by climate scientists from Arctic Basecamp, a leading science communications platform founded by Gail Whiteman, Professor of Sustainability at the University of Exeter Business School.
Professor Whiteman said: “By literally bringing the Arctic to COP26 we’re sending a strong message to the world’s leaders that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay there.
“What is happening in the Arctic is only the tip of the iceberg of the climate emergency. To ensure a safe future for humanity world leaders must follow the science and stop all new fossil fuel investment if we stand a chance of staying within the +1.5C threshold.
“This iceberg may not be inside the negotiation rooms in the Blue Zone, but it’s here and too big to be ignored.”
Few world leaders ever visit the Arctic so Arctic Basecamp decided to bring the Arctic to Glasgow, with the melting iceberg to symbolise how time is running out for action on climate change.
The Greenland ice sheet is the second largest on Earth and holds the equivalent of 7.4 metres of potential sea level rise. This means its stability – or lack of it – has critical consequences for global sea levels and the nearly 600 million people living in coastal zones worldwide. For the first time ever, rainfall was observed at the summit of the ice sheet in August 2021, increasing surface melt that runs off into the ocean.
The iceberg will be on show on Friday, November 5 before the launch of a new Arctic Risk Platform (www.arcticrisk.org) – an online resource targeted at policy makers and world leaders to help them translate what Arctic change means for them.
The iceberg will also serve as the backdrop to a series of ‘ice-side chats’ during the summit by a host of high-profile names, including the actor and activist Rainn Wilson, Lily Cole, Lewis Pugh, youth activists and Richard Walker, managing director of supermarket chain Iceland.
‘An ice-cold bottled warning’: 13 million litres of water a second melting off Greenland ice sheet
The iceberg was brought from Greenland to COP26 alongside 1,000 litres of glacial meltwater, which is being served in Glasgow as a “bottled warning” – a single serving of alarming climate facts which will be delivered to COP26 sites and made available at the Arctic Basecamp tent in Glasgow.
Dubbed the “unofficial melted iceberg water of the Glasgow COP26 conference”, the water was collected from the fjords of Greenland, where glacial melt runs into before flowing into the sea, and bottled in Scotland ready for delivery to the COP.
Sascha Blidorf, a 20-year-old Greenlandic climate activist who organised the Fridays for the Future school strikes in Greenland and ran for Danish Parliament said: “I’m sending a message in a bottle to world leaders because my home country is melting and world leaders need to act now, they can’t just pass the problems to the world's children.
“It’s really clear to see the effects from climate change up here in the Arctic. My message to the world is that we need to act now and make a difference now because we can't just sit there and wait for others to do something.”
The US actor, activist and Arctic Basecamp advisory board member Rainn Wilson, has put his voice behind the Arctic Melt bottled water campaign, saying: “On the Greenland ice cap alone 17 million of these [750ml] bottles are melting every second – 17 million bottles a second! This is important. All of that melting water is going to be at a beach near you very shortly. It affects weather patterns all around the world. And we need to do something.”
Professor Julienne Stroeve, an Arctic sea ice expert, stressed the importance of protecting this vital ecosystem: “This COP is especially urgent as we are running out of time to save the Arctic sea ice and all species, including us, who depend on it for their survival.”
Professor Whiteman added: “The Arctic is the poster child for the need to stay below the +1.5C emissions target. Looking at this barometer of global risk gives us the clearest idea of what’s at stake and what we have to lose.”
Date: 5 November 2021