The presence of the world’s leading natural historian could inspire a generation and lead to Scotland’s discovery of its own Greta Thunberg, the philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter has said.
His comments came as he announced Sir David Attenborough as the speaker for his next fundraising dinner, set to take place at the National Museum of Scotland on 18 February.
The world-famous broadcaster and scientist will speak to around 800 people at the event months before the focus of the world shifts to Glasgow during the United Nations’ climate change summit in November.
Hunter also challenged secondary school students to come up with ideas of how to deal with the climate emergency, with the potential of winning a table at the talk and a chance to speak to Attenborough.
The businessman, who has invited Michelle and Barack Obama to previous dinners for his charitable foundation, The Hunter Foundation, said the dinner would be a chance to reflect on Attenborough’s extraordinary life and put Scotland on the map with the battle against climate change.
He said: “Watching Sir David’s documentaries with his whole gravitas when he speaks and what he shows us, people take notice. I am really excited about bringing him to Scotland, and it raises the profile of what we can do because we are looking for the solutions.
“It will put Scotland at the centre of this. I am probably a bit late to this climate emergency, certainly my kids have been educating me for some time. But I think when you watch and listen to a man like Sir David, he is a change agent – if he says this is the way it is, the world believes him.”
Hunter added that Attenborough’s attendance ahead of the climate summit in Glasgow would help highlight some of the good work the country has done in reaction to the climate crisis.
He said: “The Glasgow conference will put us in the spotlight. Scotland is doing quite a lot, we have said it is a climate emergency and we have set targets to reduce emissions to net zero by 2025. I think it is a start, but wouldn’t it be amazing if Scotland could lead the world in this? The fact that here is a global icon coming to Scotland, you never know what might come out of it.”
As part of the fundraising dinner, The Hunter Foundation’s schools competition hopes to find some potentially world-changing ideas from Scotland’s own next generation. The competition, which will challenge secondary school children to develop ideas on how to deal with the climate emergency, could see those most passionate about the climate meet one of their heros.
Hunter said: “Young people will have some of the ideas that will solve this and they don’t always get a voice or a platform.
“I really believe that the young people are going to have more time on the planet than I am going to have so they are going to deal with the consequences more than me.
“I mean you could find the next Greta Thunberg.
“Scotland has as much right and as much brains to speak out on this as anybody. We are going to be affected by it like anyone else and Scotland has a rich history of coming up with ideas and wouldn’t it be wonderful that they could lead the world in this.”
All of the money raised from the dinner will go to charity, with Attenborough’s fee going towards a charity of his choice.
Any surplus will go towards The Hunter Foundation’s Kiltwalk, which saw 15,000 people take part in 2019, helping more than 1,300 different charities in Scotland.
A table at the dinner will start at £5,000 with around 800 people expected to attend.