Stars from the worlds of music, film, TV and business are today launching a campaign to save the Arctic.
Sir Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz, Robert Redford, One Direction, Alexandra Burke, Jarvis Cocker and Sir Richard Branson are among dozens of famous names who are asking for a global sanctuary in the Arctic. They have joined forces with Greenpeace to demand that oil drilling and unsustainable fishing are banned in Arctic waters.
Others demanding that the uninhabited area around the North Pole is legally protected and made off-limits to polluters include Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson, Jude Law, John Hurt, Rita Ora, Thom Yorke, Tim Roth, Thandie Newton, Bruce Parry, Lawrence Dallaglio and Cilla Black. (Full list below.)
They are among the first one hundred names to be written on an Arctic Scroll, which is launched by Greenpeace today at the Rio Earth Summit. When a million others add their own names Greenpeace will embark on an expedition to plant it on the seabed at the North Pole, four kilometres beneath the ice. The spot will be marked by a Flag for the Future designed by the youth of the world.
Anybody in the world can add their name to the Arctic Scroll and have their name planted beneath the pole by visiting www.SaveTheArctic.org
The huge expanse around the pole belongs to all of us because it is defined in international law as the high seas. But as temperatures rise and the ice melts the Arctic states - Russia, Canada, the US, Norway and Denmark - are making territorial claims on the seabed so they can open the door to oil companies. Arctic sea ice has retreated dramatically in recent years and scientists say the North Pole could soon be ice free (1).
The campaign is formally launched today at the Rio Earth Summit at a press conference (details below) hosted by Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo, Sir Richard Branson and actress Lucy Lawless, star of Battlestar Galactica and Xena: Warrior Princess. Lucy will be sentenced in September after scaling oil company Shell's Arctic drilling rig and blocking its operations for 72 hours in New Zealand in February.
Sir Paul McCartney said: "The Arctic is one of the most beautiful and last untouched regions on our planet, but now it's under threat. Some countries and companies want to open it up to oil drilling and industrial fishing and do to the Arctic what they've done to the rest of our fragile planet. It seems madness that we are willing to go to the ends of the Earth to find the last drops of oil when our best scientific minds are telling us we need to get off fossil fuels to give our children a future. At some time, in some place, we need to take a stand. I believe that time is now and that place is the Arctic."
Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said: "The Arctic is coming under assault and needs people from around the world to stand up and demand action to protect it. A ban on offshore oil drilling and unsustainable fishing would be a huge victory against the forces ranged against this precious region and the four million people who live there. And a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole would in a stroke stop the polluters colonising the top of the world without infringing on the rights of Indigenous communities."
As part of today's launch, polar bears have been appearing in cities around the world.
Shell is due to begin exploratory drilling at two offshore sites in the Alaskan Arctic in the coming weeks. If Shell is successful this summer, an Arctic oil rush will be sparked and the push to carve up the region will accelerate. Russian oil giant Gazprom is also pushing into the offshore Arctic this year.
In 2007 Russian explorer Artur Chilingarov planted a Russian flag on the seabed beneath the pole and 'claimed' it for Moscow (2). Wikileaks documents later revealed he was acting on the instructions of the Russian Government (3). Now Greenpeace is planting the names of a million global citizens beneath the pole and marking the spot with a Flag for the Future designed by children in a global competition organised by the ten million-strong Girl Guide movement.
The campaign will initially focus on pushing for a UN resolution demanding a global sanctuary around the pole and a ban on oil drilling and unsustainable fishing in the wider Arctic. The campaign was launched today because the Arctic Circle is defined as the area of the globe which on the longest day - 21 June - experiences 24 hours of sunlight. On 21 June the sun never sets on the Arctic.
Rodion Sulyandziga from the Udega People and First Vice President of RAIPON (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North) said:
"At present, the Arctic - one of the last unique and intact places on Earth - is facing a real threat from active oil drilling. A large scale oil exploration 'development' can irreversibly destroy the virgin purity of the Arctic region, putting at stake the physical existence and survival of Indigenous Peoples who, without their traditional living patterns, without their eternal habitat, will have no future."
Three Arctic states, the US, Canada and Russia were responsible for sinking an Oceans Rescue Plan in Rio which would protect the vulnerable marine life of the Arctic's international waters and enable the establishment of a sanctuary in the area around the pole.
Kumi Naidoo added: "We're drawing a line in the ice and saying to polluters 'you come no further.' People ask me why I, as an African, care so deeply about the Arctic, but the answer is simple. The Arctic is the world's refrigerator, it keeps us cool by reflecting the sun's energy off its icy surface, but as the ice melts it's accelerating global warming, threatening lives and livelihoods on every continent. Wherever we come from, the Arctic is our destiny."
A new short film written and produced by advertising legend Trevor Beattie and released today uses stunning Arctic footage shot by world-renowned 'Earth from the Air' photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The film is narrated by Golden Globe-winning actor John Hurt and can be viewed at www.savethearctic.org
Greenpeace UK press office: 020 7865 8255
Greenpeace International Arctic Communications Manager Ben Stewart in Rio on +44 (0)7801 212967 and +55 (21) 9453 8854
Rio press conference at 10am today in small press briefing room (P3-8) in corner of media centre.
Save the Arctic campaign briefing: http://www.greenpeace.org//international/Global/international/briefings/climate/Save-The-Arctic.doc
Names on the scroll are (in alphabetical order):
Aaron Johnson, actor; Adriana, musician; Alejandro Sanz, musician; Alexandra Burke, musician; Andrea Elisabeth Rudolph, cosmetics; Annie Lennox, musician; Anthony Kiedis, Red Hot Chili Peppers; Baaba Maal, musician; Barnaby Thompson, producer/director; Bella Freud, fashion; Ben Barnes, actor; Bianca Jagger, activist; Boy Olmi, actor; Brooke O'Campo, arts; Bruce Parry, explorer; Bryan Adams, musician; Bubber, TV; Carsten Jensen, author; Chet Lamb, musician; Chocolate Rain, illustrator; Christina Cole, actor; Cilla Black, TV; David de Rothschild, explorer; David Heyman, producer; Dawn Olivieri, actor; Dev Patel, actor; Edward Norton, actor; Elena Roger, actor; Eman Lam, musician; Emily Blunt, actor; Eric Schlosser, writer; Fabiana Cantilo, musician; Fernando Trueba, director; Fred Lam, activist; Gabby and Kenny Logan, sport; Goldie, musician; Gustaf Skarsgard, actor; Hannah Rothschild, writer/director; Hoffmaestro, band; Hu Haiquan, musician; Hugh Grant, actor; Ib Michael, author; Imelda Staunton, actor; Jack White, musician; Jan Meek, explorer; Jarvis Cocker, musician; Javier Bardem, actor; Jeremy Irons, actor; Jesper Christensen, actor; Jesus Calleja, TV; Jim Broadbent, actor; Jiří Dědeček, poet; Jochen Zeitz, businessman; Joey Leung Cho-yiu, actor; John Carlos, sport; John Hurt, actor; Jude Law, actor; Klára Issová, actor; Kongkee, illustrator; KT Tunstall, musician; Laura Bailey, arts; Lawrence Chou, actor; Lawrence Dallaglio, former England Rugby captain; Leila Tong, actor; Lena Endre, actor; Lene Gammelgaard, explorer; Lily Cole, actor/model; Livia Firth, campaigner; Lucy Lawless, actor; Klára Issová, actor; Master Fatman, music/comedy; Miquel Barcelo, artist/sculptor; Miroslav Jakes, explorer; Natalia Oreiro, actor; Nick Laird-Clowes, musician; Nick Simmons, TV; Oh Land, band; One Direction, band; Oliver Parker, director; Olivia Williams, actor; Orsola Del Castro, fashion; Pamela Anderson, actor; Sir Paul McCartney, musician; Paul Simonon, musician; Pedro Almodovar, filmmaker; Penelope Cruz, actor; Peter Gabriel, musician; Petr Vacek, actor; Q'orianka Kilcher, actor; Raghu Ram, actor; Rajeev Khandelwal, actor; Raymond Khouri, author; Rebecca Frayn, writer; Ricardo Darín, actor; Sir Richard Branson, businessman; Rita Ora, musician; Robert Redford, actor; Sabrina Guinness, media; Saffron Burrows, actor; Sam Taylor Wood, arts; Sarah Burton, fashion; Sebastian Klein, TV; Shane Watson, media; Sharon Lawrence, actor; Shauna Redford, arts; Sherry Tsai, sport; Shin, musician; Simona Babčáková, actor; Sneha Khanwalkar, actor; Solange Azagury-Partridge, jeweller; Stella McCartney, fashion; Stephen Frears, director; Stephen Hopkins, director; Steve Jones, TV; Sugandha Garg, actor; Sylvi Bódi, model; Tamra Rosanes, musician; Thandie Newton, actor; Thom Yorke, musician; Thomas Jane, actor; Tim Roth, actor; Sir Tom Stoppard, arts; TroelsKløvedal, explorer; Tsang Tsui-shan Jessey, director; Uri Fruchtmann, filmmaker; Vivienne Westwood, fashion; Willian Tang, fashion; Woody Harrelson, actor; Xiao Wei, musician.