A general view shows the Dolomites mountain range from the Col Margherita pass in Falcade, Veneto, northeastern Italy, on Feb 25, 2021. (MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
PARIS – Some of the world's most famous glaciers, including in the Dolomites in Italy, the Yosemite and Yellowstone parks in the United States and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania are set to disappear by 2050 due to global warming, whatever the temperature rise scenario, according to a UNESCO report.
The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO monitors some 18,600 glaciers across 50 of its World Heritage sites and said that glaciers in one third of World Heritage sites will disappear by 2050 regardless of the applied climate scenario
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for multilateralism and diplomacy to make the upcoming COP27 in Egypt "turning points for hope"
While the rest can be saved by keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) relative to pre-industrial levels, in a business-as-usual emissions scenario, about 50 percent of these World Heritage glaciers could almost entirely disappear by 2100.
"This report is a call to action. Only a rapid reduction in our CO2 emissions levels can save glaciers and the exceptional biodiversity that depends on them," Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General, said in a statement.
ALSO READ: UN report: World falling short on climate adaptation funding
She added that the UN's COP27 climate conference will have a crucial role to help find solutions to this issue.
World Heritage glaciers as defined by UNESCO represent about 10 percent of the world's glacier areas and include some of the world's best-known glaciers, whose loss is highly visible as they are focal points for global tourism.
The report's lead author Tales Carvalho told Reuters that World Heritage glaciers lose on average some 58 billion tons of ice every year – equivalent to the total annual volume of water used in France and Spain together – and contribute to almost 5 percent of global observed sea-level rise.
ALSO READ: Aggressive action imperative to cut emissions
UNESCO recommends that given the inevitable further shrinking of many of these glaciers in the near future, local authorities should make glaciers a focus of policy, by improving monitoring and research and by implementing disaster risk reduction measures.
"As glacier lakes fill up, they can burst and can cause catastrophic floods downstream," Carvalho said.
Turning points for hope
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for multilateralism and diplomacy to make the upcoming COP27 in Egypt "turning points for hope."
"COP27 must be the place to rebuild trust and re-establish the ambition needed to avoid driving our planet over the climate cliff," the UN chief said in a press encounter.
In the last few weeks, report after report has painted a clear and bleak picture — emissions are still growing at record levels, Guterres said, adding that temperatures are also on course to rise by as much as 2.8 degrees.
"And that means our planet is on course for reaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We need to move from tipping points to turning points for hope," he said.
READ MORE: Justice, mutual benefit key to climate fight
It is time for a historic pact between the developed and emerging economies — a pact in which developed countries deliver on the commitment made in Paris — to help emerging economies speed their renewable energy transition, said Guterres.
"COP27 must be the place to close the ambition gap, the credibility gap and the solidarity gap. The world must come together to support developing countries and vulnerable communities," he said.