Posted on 4th July 2017

Arctic Live

Cutting carbon emissions when filming in the fragile Arctic

Arctic Live follows the remarkable journey of hundreds of polar bears on one of the planet’s last undiscovered wilderness. These journeys are increasingly impacted by climate change; altering the natural systems on which the bears rely.

The Arctic Live team were keen to reduce the environmental impact of the production and set about a number of carbon reduction initiatives before arriving in Churchill, a small Manitoba urban area where they would be based for the duration of the production period. Before filming, all crew were advised that the production was striving to achieve sustainability certification and asked to think about minimising their impact wherever possible. This was achieved by choosing accommodation based on its environmental credentials, reducing the use of disposable on location with reusable water bottle and waste-free lunches, recycling wherever possible, eliminating paper use on location, hiring rather than buying special equipment, using low energy technology and hiring kit and crew on location to avoid travel emissions.

With the whole team on board, the Arctic Live team have also communicated a very strong environmental narrative through the programme and associated publicity, raising awareness of the natural wildlife and the delicate balance in which they survive.

Sarah Gibbs, Series Producer:

The Arctic is changing faster than anywhere else on Earth. Not only in terms of warming, but the region is experiencing huge social, economic, technological and industrial change. When setting out to make Arctic Live we knew the region’s most charismatic resident, the polar bear, would be at the heart of our live story – we were, after all, heading to the the polar bear capital of the world at the height of bear season – but we also knew that through the bears we could connect to the ice and the bigger story of the Arctic today. Environment and climate can be difficult subjects for the audience but the bears provided an engaging way in. To draw people deeper into the broader narrative we also chose to foreground Arctic communities rather than scientists, to look at stories rather than headlines. Amongst many others these included everything from the Inupiat and the oil companies in Alaska to Sami reindeer herders and mining in Sweden. By humanising the issues and allowing the subtext to speak for itself I believe we made the subject more accessible for our audience.

Given the subject matter, we were also keen to try and make the production as sustainable as possible. We tried to minimise our footprint on all our shoots and on the live OB. We thought carefully about the numbers of people and flights we needed. We also thought carefully about equipment and supplies on location. Instead of shipping bulky cold weather gear to the Arctic we hired the majority of it locally. This saved on excess baggage and put money back into the local economy. We used thermoses and refillable water bottles instead of disposable cups and single use bottles. Any equipment we purchased, we did so with a thought to re-use in the community. We donated printers and phones and other items to various groups such as the Town Council, the Inuit Transit Centre, the Junior Rangers and the Scouts.