Warning from glaciers

Tuesday, 2022-05-17 16:30:08
 Font Size:     |        Print

The Trient Glacier observed in August 2019, compared with a photograph taken at the same location in 1891.
 Font Size:     |  

NDO - The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has said that glaciers in Austria and Switzerland could shrink or disappear completely by the end of the 21st century due to global warming. The gradual disappearance of rivers and extreme weather events are alarm bells urging the international community to take more responsibility in the fight against climate change.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues and it is unknown when it will end. In the meantime, the whole world is still struggling to cope with another serious problem, the climate crisis with its increasingly rapid and unpredictable developments leading to many negative consequences on the environment and people’s health. According to WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas, glaciers in Austria could completely disappear by the end of the 21st century.

In another European country, Switzerland, glaciers are also forecast to shrink to just 5% of their current size by the end of the 21st century. The melting of glaciers will certainly affect sources of drinking water and electricity production. In Ethiopia, more than 11 million people are struggling with severe drought. Also in Africa, South Africa is having to deal with the consequences of unusual floods in April, which killed hundreds of people and caused 1.5 billion USD in damage.

The climate crisis is increasingly severe, requiring an emergency response strategy on a global scale. However, experts point out that people’s awareness of climate change is still lacking, leading to insufficient commitment and action.

The Carbon Tracker, an organisation that tracks the impact of climate change on financial markets, says leading global energy companies’ climate commitments lack credibility because these corporations still depend on expensive technology to reduce emissions but maintain their production of pollution. According to Carbon Tracker, out of the top 15 energy companies in the world, only four have made specific commitments to cut their emissions so far.

The WMO and the UK Meteorological Office say that global emissions are increasing as countries step up their economic recovery activities after the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of CO2 and methane emissions in the atmosphere increased to a record high in 2021. Tensions in Ukraine have also hindered climate cooperation efforts as some countries plan to use more coal to replace Russian gas supplies. This makes the road to achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change even more arduous.

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which took place in Glasgow in 2021, was once considered a landmark in the global fight against climate change as 197 countries agreed to pursue the goal of keeping average global temperature increases at 1.5C. Many countries also announced specific deadlines to bring net emissions to zero and pledged to reduce their methane emissions.

However, the path from commitment to concrete action requires a lot of determination and effort, especially when dealing with other global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the situation in Ukraine, making it difficult for many countries to focus on the goal of combating climate change.

Only half a year remains before the COP27 Conference in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh. To make this conference a venue to witness turning points as expected by the United Nations, countries need to accelerate their action and be more drastic in the fight against climate change, one that is challenging all of humanity.