Friday 9 January, 2009 - Billion Tree Campaign Patron and UNEP Champion of the Earth Prince Albert II of Monaco has begun a month-long expedition to Antarctica to assess the impact of global warming on the South Pole.
"This is one of the most sensitive regions in the world," Prince Albert said. "Everything happening at the South Pole, like the North Pole, has repercussions everywhere on the planet." The Prince will pay to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from his own visit by investing in renewable energies.
Since acceding to the throne in 2005, the Prince has made environmental awareness a key goal of his principality. He has thrown his support behind a wide range of green causes, including the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign alongside Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai. The Campaign is catalyzing a massive tree-planting movement around the globe, with the goal to plant 7 billion trees - one per every person on the planet - by the end of 2009. For this and other efforts to safeguard the planet, Prince Albert received UNEP's prestigious Champion of the Earth Award in 2008.
The Prince's South Pole itinerary includes visits to scientific outposts and meetings with climate change experts from 18 countries to get an overview of the latest research. He will visit a range of scientific stations including the US research bases at Patriot Hill and Amundsen-Scott, the French-Italian base Concordia, Russia's Vostok and Novolazarevskaya, Australia's Davis station, the Belgian base Princess Elisabeth and Norway's Troll.
The trip's other objective is to raise worldwide public awareness of the effect of global warming and other environmental change on the Poles.
Christian Nellemann, senior officer for UNEP's GLOBIO Programme, said: "The growing environmental efforts of prominent state leaders, like that of Prince Albert II, are very important in raising the understanding in society and among politicians, of the huge risks we are facing with climate change."
UNEP's Polar Programme, based at the Grid-Arendal research centre in Norway, works on early warning and assessment of the polar environments. The Programme also focuses on communicating the key role of the polar regions for the global climate.