Greenpeace team successfully completes North Pole expedition to the Arctic

by Cassady Craighill

April 15, 2013

Team Aurora prepare to lower the time capsule into the icy waters at the North Pole. From L-R are: Josefina Skerk, a Swedish-Sami student and member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden; Renny Bijoux from Seychelles a nation under grave threat from climate change; 20-year-old musician and Hollywood actor Ezra Miller; Kiera Dawn Kolson of the TsoTine-Gwichin nations in Northern Canada. A flag for the future is attached to the glass and titanium time capsule containing 2.7 million names of supporters who wish to protect the Arctic. A banner behind reads "Save the Arctic."

© Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

Four young people on a mission with Greenpeace have planted a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, at the same spot where a submarine planted a Russian flag claiming the Arctic for Moscow.The young people planted their Flag for the Future four kilometers beneath the ice at the top of the world and called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary.

Take action now to save the Arctic!

The campaignersheld a ceremony this weekend at the geographic North Pole, led by two Arctic Indigenous ambassadors. There they cut a hole in the ice and lowered a flag designed by a childfrom Malaysia, through the freezing waters to the seabed. You can follow their expedition here on this interactive map.

The flag is attached to a glass and titanium time capsulecontaining the signatures of nearly three million people, including actors, musicians, artists and business leaderswho asked for their names to be taken to the Pole when they joined Greenpeaces campaign calling for the Arctic to be protected from exploitation. Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu this weekend joined the call for a global sanctuary, saying,”I offer my full support to these young people who traveled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change.

Hollywood actor Ezra Miller star ofWe Need to Talk About KevinandThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the youth ambassadors who planted the flag and the names. Another is 26-year-oldJosefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and Sami Parliament member in Sweden.

“By coming to the top of the world and planting this flag, were hoping to inspire young people everywhere. Were here to say this special area of the Arctic belongs to no person or nation, but is the common heritage of everyone on Earth,” said Skerk.”Our names and those of millions more are now planted on the seabed beneath the Pole. Together we’re asking that this area be declared a global sanctuary, off-limits to oil companies and political posturing. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, in the whole of the Arctic, whose way of life is now being threatened by the unchecked greed of industry.

The expedition coincided with the first ever meeting at the North Pole of the Arctic Council, the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states. As the expedition started, Skerk requested a meeting with the group, but was refused.The weeklong expedition to the Pole is part of a global campaign to protect the Arctic, under threat from climate change, oil companies, industrial fishing and shipping. As global warming melts the sea ice, companies such as Shell, Gazprom and Statoil are moving in to exploit the region’s oilas nation states lay claim to areas previously covered by ice.

The youth ambassadors and Greenpeace campaigners have challenged the companies and nations seeking to profit from climate change. By planting the time capsule and flag, they have drawn a line in the ice, telling the polluters and oil companies: you come no further.

The young people are part of a Greenpeace team that trekked for one week across the frozen ocean in freezing winds and temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius. They traveled around 10 km a day, each dragging heavy sleighs weighing 80kg behind them. In a remote and dangerous environment their supplies dwindled as the shifting ice took them further from the Pole. The team then hitched a ride with a helicopter that was flying in from the nearby Barneo Base, to put them within striking distance of the Pole, allowing them to ski and drift a shorter final distance and complete their journey to the top of the world.

Join a global day of action for the Arctic this Saturday when folks from across the world will come together to visually show their love for the Arctic. It’s not too late to take part!

Hear from the team below:

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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