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Professor Gail Whiteman

Exeter professor joins Greta Thunberg to demand shift to low carbon economy

A prominent climate change academic newly appointed to the University of Exeter Business School has joined Greta Thunberg in demanding “immediate and deep shifts to the low carbon economy”.

Professor Gail Whiteman, an expert in sustainable business who will join Business School’s Department of Management in July, was among signatories of a letter calling on Norway and Canada to commit to ending fossil fuel developments and subsidies before either is allowed on to the UN’s Security Council.

Both countries are candidates in the UN election for five non-permanent seats on the Security Council, to be held on 17 June.

In the letter, Professor Whiteman and Greta Thunberg are among four youth activists and 22 prominent climate scientists to outline their concerns about reported decisions to expand and subsidise domestic fossil fuel production in the two countries, saying they pose significant security risks.

Gail Whiteman, incoming professor of sustainable business at the University of Exeter, said: “The systemic threats from climate change require immediate and deep shifts to the low carbon economy. Any new investment or expansion in oil and gas is not in line with our scientific understanding of climate risk. Norway and Canada must unite behind the science – there is no other option.”

The letter was addressed to UN ambassadors of small island countries, which will have a significant say in the outcome of the election.

“We believe candidates for election to the Security Council must recognise the climate emergency and be committed to act based on the best available climate science,” the letter states.

“The Small Island Developing States understand more than most the existential threat posed by climate change to our peace and security, even fundamental statehood, and as such have a strong interest in ensuring that climate commitments are a central consideration when deciding which candidates to support.”

The letter, which can be viewed in full here, was co-organised by Arctic Basecamp, the science solutions communication platform of which Professor Whiteman is a founder.

Its mission is to “speak science to power” to encourage bold climate action.

Date: 10 June 2020