Conquering peaks for climate change

By Amelia Caddy 16 November 2015
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Aussie adventurer Tim Jarvis plans to tackle a three-peak line-up during a major Paris climate conference.

TWO AND A half years ago, AG Society-sponsored adventurer Tim Jarvis came across a newly-formed lake where a glacier once sat, on the subantarctic island of South Georgia.

Tim was retracing Sir Ernest Shackleton’s steps almost 100 years earlier, when the lake water was still glacial ice, and this marked a poignant reminder of the effects of climate change.

“I remember thinking at the time what a powerful before-and-after sequence this would have made, had Shackleton had a camera and been in a position to film it,” he says.

The discovery led Tim to create the 25zero project, which on Wednesday will see him fly to Indonesia to film melting glaciers on the 4884m-high Carstensz Pyramid, as the COP21 climate change talks kick-off in Paris.

Over 190 countries will be represented at the United Nations conference, which will go ahead with heightened security following Friday night’s deadly terrorist attacks. Leaders will try to agree on a global, legally binding climate treaty.

Taking glacial melt to Paris

As the 12-day talks play out, Tim is planning to climb three equatorial mountains with melting glaciers, live-streaming what he sees to leaders in Paris. In doing so, he hopes to instil a “sense of urgency” at the conference.

“You can tell someone that change is happening, but there is nothing quite like seeing it, and I think a glacier is a very easy visual indicator of what’s otherwise a very difficult global concept to try and describe,” says Tim.

Following Carstensz Pyramid, Tim will climb 5109m Mount Stanley in Uganda, then 6268m Chimborazo in Ecuador. These peaks are among the 25 equatorial mountains with glaciers predicted to disappear within the next 25 years.

The 25zero project aims to eventually coordinate summits of all 25 peaks, documenting their glacial melt and raising awareness about climate change in the process.

A global commitment to climate change

The project has already attracted the attention of national and international decision-makers attending COP21, including the Ugandan delegation leader and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.

Tim’s hope is that adventure stories and images will be able to achieve what “hockey-stick curves and Al Gore-type presentations” have not – real awareness about the consequences of climate change.

“What I would like to see coming out of COP21 is an agreement that collectively got us to two degrees Celsius,” he says.

As to whether or not Paris will deliver that result, Tim remains unsure.

“I’m hopeful something will come of it – the question is whether it will be enough,” he says.

Tim and the 25zero team have started a crowd-funding campaign to help pay for air-time at COP21. To donate, visit here.