A third of glaciers classified as World Heritage by Unesco will disappear, warns the organization

A third of UNESCO World Heritage glaciers will disappear, alerts the organization


A third of the glaciers classified as World Heritage by Unesco will disappear by 2050 “whatever the climate scenario”, warned the UN organization on Thursday, calling for “quickly reduce CO2 emissions” to preserve the remaining two-thirds. 

The study covers 18,600 glaciers of 66,000 km2 in total spread over 50 world heritage sites, i.e. 10% of the total glacial surface of the earth, “representative” of the state of world glaciers, specifies Unesco in a press release.

According to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in the spring, the melting of ice and snow is one of the ten major threats caused by the global warming.

World Heritage glaciers are melting at a rate of 58 billion tonnes of ice each year, the volume of water used annually by France and Spain, contributing to global sea level rise, according to Unesco .

The two thirds that will not necessarily disappear “could be saved if we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees”, adds the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization .

The UN climate conference, which takes place from November 6 to 18 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, will be “crucial in helping to find solutions”, underlined the director of Unesco, Audrey Azoulay.

All World Heritage-listed glaciers in Africa “will very likely be gone” by 2050, including those in Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania.

In Europe, the glaciers of the Pyrénées-Mont Perdu in France and Spain should disappear, just like those of the Dolomites in Italy and the national parks of Yellowstone and Yosemite in the United States.

The glaciers of the protected areas of the three parallel rivers in Yunnan in China have seen their volume more than halved and are currently melting the fastest among the listed sites.

“About 50% of World Heritage glaciers could almost entirely disappear by 2100 in a scenario where the emissions would remain at their current level”, warns the organization.

Beyond a call for a “drastic” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, Unesco calls for the creation of an “international fund for the monitoring and preservation of glaciers”.