Pope Francis is the latest public figure to lend their support to the Last Game at the North Pole – an Arctic ice hockey match that aims to draw attention to the scary speed of climate change.
The Head of the Roman Catholic Church blessed the Last Game and accepted UN Environment’s invitation to serve as honorary captain for one of the hockey teams taking to the rink in April 2019. Pope Francis’ “counterpart” for the other team will be UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
“Presenting the Last Game to more non-Arctic globally-prominent personalities has confirmed that this project has universal attraction and can stimulate public action to fight climate change beyond the Arctic Circle,” said UN Environment Patron of the Polar Regions Vyacheslav Fetisov.
The Last Game was given a global platform last week, as Fetisov addressed delegates at a
Climate and Sport Summit in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York. “How many people watched the World Cup? Almost 4 billion. It was the single most unifying common experience on the planet this year. So I decided to try to organize the first – and maybe the last – hockey game at the North Pole, to help unify the world and combat polar warming,” he explained.
“When we started, everyone said this was a crazy idea. But now we have the support of all the Artic countries – the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland,” the legendary ice hockey player underlined.
While in New York, the UN Environment Patron of the Polar Regions met with Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to discuss the promotion of The Last Game at December’s climate change conference in Katowice, Poland.
In another recent meeting with Slava Fetisov, Prince Albert of Monaco also spoke in favour of linking sport with environmental messaging. “Sport carries a universal language, federating peoples across cultures. Climate change needs to be brought to the attention of the greatest number of people,” reasoned Prince Albert, whose Principality of Monaco aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Prince Albert is himself a former Olympic athlete in bobsleigh and is chairing the Sustainability Commission of the International Olympic Committee.
The hockey match will take place at the ‘Barneo’ expedition camp, about 80 km from the North Pole. Athletes from all around the world, including all Arctic countries, are expected to take part in this unique event.
The Arctic is warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet and its summers may be almost ice-free by 2040. The Last Game aims to draw attention to the rapid speed of global warming and demonstrate its importance to the well-being of people across the world.