The world’s most notable glaciers could melt by 2050, the latest UN climate report warns

Some of the world’s most famous glaciers, including the Dolomites in Italy, the US’s Yosemite and Yellowstone parks and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, could disappear within 30 years due to global warming, regardless of the temperature rise scenario, a new report warns .

The cultural agency Unesco, which monitors 18,600 glaciers in 50 of its world heritage sites, said glaciers in a third of them will disappear by 2050, regardless of the climate projections used.

While the rest can be saved by keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, in a business-as-usual emissions scenario, about half of these World Heritage glaciers could almost entirely disappear by 2100.

“This report is a call to action. Only a rapid reduction in our carbon emissions can save glaciers and the outstanding biodiversity that depend on them,” Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.

She added that the UN climate change conference COP27 in Egypt will play a crucial role in finding solutions to this problem.

World Heritage glaciers, as defined by Unesco, represent approximately 10 percent of the world’s glacial area and include some of the world’s best known, the loss of which is clearly visible as they are hotspots for global tourism.

The report’s lead author, Tales Carvalho, said World Heritage glaciers lose an average of about 58 billion tons of ice each year – equivalent to the total annual amount of water used in France and Spain combined – and contribute to nearly 5 percent of the world’s observed sea level rise .

Given the inevitable further shrinking of many of these glaciers in the near future, Unesco recommends that local authorities should make them a focus of their policies by improving monitoring and research, and implementing disaster risk reduction measures.

“As glacial lakes fill, they can burst and cause catastrophic flooding downstream,” Mr Carvalho said.

In the meantime, countries must dramatically and urgently step up their efforts to adapt to climate change as it “slaps humanity one blow at a time,” the UN has warned.

Ahead of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, the United Nations said the estimated cost of addressing climate impacts is five to 10 times greater than the funding developing countries receive to help them adapt.

The money needed to help developing countries implement change will increase to as much as €350 billion per year by the end of the decade.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a “global surge in adaptation investment to save millions of lives from climate carnage.”

Climate risks are mounting, with a multi-year drought in the Horn of Africa, unprecedented floods in Pakistan and record heatwaves in the northern hemisphere, all hitting warming of 1.1°C above pre-industrial temperatures.

The UN Environment Program warned last week that, based on countries’ plans to tackle climate-warming emissions, there is no credible way to limit temperature rises to 1.5C, the threshold at which the worst effects of global warming begin are to be expected.

Instead, the world was on course for 2.4°C to 2.6°C warming and climate catastrophe. The world’s most notable glaciers could melt by 2050, the latest UN climate report warns

Fry Electronics Team

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