Released on the occasion of the 44th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting held in Berlin (May 23 – June 2, 2022), this podcast presents a conversation between Giulia Foscari (founder of UNLESS), Alan D. Hemmings, Carlo Barbante, and James N. Barnes on the urgencies facing the Antarctic and, in turn, planet Earth.
This conversation offers data and concrete arguments in support of the call to ‘Speak Up For Antarctica Now’ and sign the three Petitions for the protection of the Antarctic available here. The urgencies can be summarized as follows:
To meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels until 2050, 60% of our planet’s proven hydrocarbon reserves must remain in the ground. To date, this percentage does not include the abundant hydrocarbon basins of Antarctica. While their extraction is currently banned by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, the Prohibition of Mineral Resource Activities may be dangerously challenged as of January 2048. Extracting Antarctic hydrocarbons would have devastating effects not only on the continent, but on a global scale. It is urgent to sign the Petition to forever ban hydrocarbon extraction now and commit to decarbonizing our global economy.
To meet the United Nations’ pledge to protect 30% of the planet and its ocean by 2030, it is essential to establish Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean. Known as the greatest planetary carbon sink due to its capacity to store 40% of anthropogenic CO2, the Southern Ocean is largely unprotected despite being home to thousands of unique species. The 26 member countries of the CCAMLR (Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) have the power to establish large marine sanctuaries in Antarctica and protect a site equivalent to the entire European Union. It is urgent to sign the Petition in support of the largest act of ocean protection in history, to safeguard biodiversity, abundance, and ecosystem health, and provide climate resilience.
To ensure true scientific cooperation in the only continent exclusively devoted to peace and science, as stipulated by Article III of the Antarctic Treaty, we need to commit to international stations in our Global Common. Only 1 out of the current 76 stations is a shared one. The deregulated proliferation of stations, often built in proximity to one another and conducting similar scientific research, mostly reflects a geopolitical strategy to overtly assert territorial claims and hinders the scientific potential of Antarctic programs. It limits the average surface area devoted to scientific laboratories to 13.5% and the scientist to staff ratio to 1:9. It is urgent to sign the Petition to advocate for international stations and reduce our contaminating footprint on the continent.