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“The glaciers of the Pyrenees will disappear by 2050”, warns the co-author of a report for UNESCO World Heritage

“The glaciers of the Pyrenees will disappear by 2050”alert Thursday 3 November on franceinfo Tales Carvalho Resende, program manager at the UNESCO World Heritage Center and co-lead author of a report on glaciers. This report covers 18 600 glaciers spread over 50 world heritage sites, or 10% of the earth’s total glacial surface.

franceinfo : Which glaciers will disappear by 2050? ?

Tales Carvalho Resende : We have seen in this study that a third of World Heritage-listed glaciers will disappear by 2050, regardless of the climate scenario, whatever happens. Among these glaciers, there are iconic sites such as the last glaciers in Africa: Kilimanjaro, the Rwenzori mountains. In Europe, there are for example the Dolomites in Italy, or here, in France, the Pyrenees. The glaciers of the Pyrenees will disappear by 2050. The glaciers of the national parks of Yellowstone and Yosemite in the United States are also threatened.

How fast are these glaciers melting?

In our study, we were able to see that there is really an acceleration of the melting. We were surprised by the speed at which these glaciers are retreating. For example, there is a world heritage site in China where glaciers have lost more than 50% of their volume in 20 years. A large proportion of these glaciers have lost more than 20% of their volume in 20 years. Every year, World Heritage glaciers lose 58 billion tonnes of ice. This represents the water consumption of France and Spain. It also accounts for about 5% of sea level rise.

A third of UNESCO World Heritage glaciers cannot be saved, this is a rather pessimistic observation. But how to save the remaining two-thirds?

The solution would be to drastically reduce CO2 emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. This is really the most important action to take. So, we hope that this report can send a strong message to ensure that countries make more ambitious commitments. [lors de la prochaine conférence de l’Onu sur le climat, la COP 27, qui s’ouvre la semaine prochaine en Egypte]. According to the projections we have made, if we continue in the same emissions scenario as today, half of the World Heritage sites will lose their glaciers in 2100.

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