A woman dubbed the “human swan” is to attempt a world-first circumnavigation of mainland Britain next month to mark the COP26 climate conference being held in Glasgow.
Sacha Dench will take off from Glasgow in an adapted electric paramotor on Thursday May 20, flying anti-clockwise around the coast and returning to land in the city around six weeks later.
The Australian is known for global expeditions with migratory species but has turned her focus to climate change after losing her family home to bushfires last year.
The UN COP26 event is set to be held at the Scottish Event Campus from November 1-12, despite activist Greta Thunberg suggesting it should be postponed again due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of her 3000-mile expedition, Ms Dench said: “The support has been overwhelming, from companies to teachers, heads of government and individuals who have donated – getting us to take-off has been a mass effort.
“Along with testing the capability of electric flight, and challenging what we think is possible, together we want to capture the imaginations of the young and old, rural and urban, and focus on answers to the climate crisis – not problems – and encourage everyone to get involved.
“Climate change has to be seen as a mountain we can climb, not a dark cloud on the horizon too big to think about.
“My hopes for COP26 are that the whole country shows up, whether in person or in spirit, with the aim of acting, collaborating, sharing challenges and ideas, not just to be seen to be there.
“I hope that all the decision-makers involved remember to hear the voices of people around the country and around the world. For global corporations, these people are your staff, your children, your future customers.
“I also hope companies realise that they are mass influencers with the power to choose our future, to shift our economies into hyper-drive on climate action before it is too late… or not.”
World leaders are expected to attend the COP26 summit, which has been described as the most significant international meeting on climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015.
The expedition, sponsored by EDF, is described as an extreme test over challenging landscapes.
The electric paramotor will replace the usual two-stroke engine she has used for long expeditions.
Ms Dench hopes to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest, and first, flight around Britain in a paramotor – and the first long-distance expedition attempted with an electric paramotor.
Simone Rossi, EDF’s UK chief executive, said: “With the UK hosting COP26 this year, we need climate change at the top of the agenda.
“Replacing fossil fuels in transport with low-carbon electricity is one of the steps to net zero.
“As Britain’s biggest generator of zero-carbon electricity, generating power from wind, nuclear and solar, EDF is excited to support the Round Britain Climate Challenge.
“It is a brilliant initiative to highlight climate change and some of the amazing people tackling it.
“Let’s break some world records and let’s help Britain achieve net-zero.”