“On 2 and 3 December, I am taking time out from the hectic campaign in North Wiltshire to chair the first ever Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly which is taking place in London’s Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall” said North Wiltshire Conservative candidate, James Gray today.

“This is a conference on which I have been working for more than a year now. It’s the first of its kind- bringing together Parliamentarians from across the Globe to discuss issues of huge international importance, including, but by no means limited to, Climate Change.”

Timed to coincide with Antarctica Day and the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, Parliamentary delegations were invited from the 54 signatory countries of the Antarctic Treaty to take part in discussions and debates about subjects ranging from climate change and the melting Antarctic ice sheets, to the increase in polar tourism and protecting Antarctic biodiversity.

Sir David Attenborough sent his apologies for not being able to attend the APA due to filming commitments and commented: “It is a very worthwhile initiative and I hope that your deliberations will produce results which will help preserve and enhance the great White Continent. The challenges we face in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are both alarming and urgent, and I call on your parliaments and governments to work together to act decisively and collectively for the preservation of the continent.”

There will be presentations from scientists and experts from countries as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Brazil, as well as Lord Ahmad, UK Minister for the Polar Regions and Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey.

James Gray, who was Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions until the Election campaign started commented:

“The signing of the Antarctic Treaty, under which the great wilderness is preserved for science and saved from either military or commercial use, was a truly historic moment. To mark its 60th anniversary, I am delighted to convene the first ever Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly, and I hope that this will become the first of many Assemblies that will be held in the future.”