|Among the glaciers that UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, says could disappear by 2050 are Dolomites glaciers like Marmolada, the highest peak of the mountain range, which partially collapsed in July. I have.|
The United Nations cultural agency has warned that the Kilimanjaro, Dolomites, Yosemite, and Yellowstone ice sheets could disappear by 2050, highlighting the impact of travel on climate change.
Creating the UNESCO World Heritage List, the educational, scientific, and cultural agency of the United Nations, is a kind of gold stamp of approval in the tourism industry. Beginning in 1978, the list has more than 1,150 sites nominated by the host country and includes destinations such as the Great Wall of China, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and Brazil's Central Amazon Conservation Complex. increase.
It's also home to some of the world's most famous and most visited glaciers, including Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park. But a third of them are expected to disappear by 2050 due to climate change, according to a report released last week by a government agency.
Glaciers likely to disappear include Africa, Kilimanjaro National Park, Mount Kenya, Montperdu in the Pyrenees that straddle the French-Spanish border, and the last glacier in the Italian Dolomites.
Released just days before the UN's COP27 climate change conference began in Egypt, the report poses a challenge to the travel industry, which contributes significantly to the world's carbon footprint. Estimated at 11%. Greenhouse gases, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (W.T.T.C.). Aviation accounts for about 17% of the total travel carbon footprint.
The report is a stark reminder of the important role the travel industry plays in protecting sensitive sites and reducing carbon emissions, said many experts in sustainable travel. James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel, a travel company that organizes trips to the country, said. Glaciers named in the report.
"It's very much a wake-up call," he said. “The key message is ultimate that there is no vaccine against climate change for the travel industry. Action must be taken urgently to rapidly decarbonize.”
|View of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. UNESCO warns that the park's glaciers could disappear by 2050.|
Fifty of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites are home to glaciers, and 18,600 glaciers have been identified in these locations. A third of the glaciers at these sites are "doomed to disappear by 2050," according to the report.
“These are projections,” says Tales Carvalho Resende, a UNESCO researcher in Brazil and one of the report's authors. "Of course, we hope we're wrong, but these are predictions based on rigorous science."
The glacier will disappear regardless of the "climate scenario," he said. But the report says limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit could save the remaining two-thirds of World Heritage glaciers.
According to UNESCO, listed glaciers are losing 58 billion tonnes of ice annually, equivalent to the combined annual water use of France and Spain. About 5% of the observed global sea level rise is due to melting, according to the study.
A sharp drop in renewable energy prices and global political mobilization have led scientists to believe that this century's warming will most likely be between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius, surpassing the catastrophic projections once made. 4 to 6 degrees. But limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is almost impossible, and even one or two degrees more would lead to more extreme weather, environmental destruction, and suffering for millions of people.
Still, Resende said the UNESCO report shows the travel industry can play a big role in preserving world heritage sites and changing traveler behavior.
He pointed to a 2019 ban prohibiting tourists from climbing Uluru, a giant Australian monolith sacred to the Anangu, an Aboriginal group who are the custodians of the rock. The ban, which came after a decade-long campaign, is highly respected by tourists and gives park rangers time to maintain the flora and fauna of the World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. increase.
|Since 2019, tourists have been banned from climbing Uluru in Australia's central desert. This is an example of how education and working with local communities can change traveler behavior.|
Resende described this as an example of how education and working with local communities can help tourists change their travel habits and learn how to better protect sensitive destinations. This is a lesson that could possibly be applied to curb emissions-producing behavior.
Travel companies such as Expedia and Kayak can also encourage people to travel less frequently by promoting week-long trips instead of three-day or weekend excursions, he said. A traveler who flies for a long vacation once a year would theoretically have a lower carbon footprint than a traveler who makes multiple short trips, Resende said.
The final COP meeting, held in Glasgow, Scotland last year, brought together more than 300 members of the trillion-dollar global tourism industry, including tourism operators, hotel chain heads, and tourism board leaders, to launch the Glasgow Declaration. signed. About climate change measures in tourism. Since then, over 530 stakeholders have signed the pledge.
The deal required the submission of a concrete and transparent plan within 12 months to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and reach 'net zero' by 2050.
Travel companies have a "special obligation" to tackle the industry's carbon footprint, said Jeff Roy, executive vice president of Colette Tours, a travel company that organizes trips to World Heritage sites.
“The good news is that the travel industry is coming together to share resources and work together to transform tourism about climate action in ways never seen before,” he said in a statement. said, “The pace of climate change is accelerating, so much more needs to be done and quickly.”
For example, Intrepid has begun taking travelers to their destinations by bus rather than by plane, a change from past practice, Thornton said.
The release of the report has raised concerns that tourists will flock to the glaciers to see them before they disappear, exacerbating overcrowding in national parks and other sensitive natural areas.
Fred Bianchi, director of the Glacier National Park Project Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Montana, said: The park was not listed in the UNESCO report, but scientists fear the park could be glacier-free by 2030.
Due to the pandemic, many parks have introduced reservation systems to avoid crowds. The UNESCO report offers another incentive to maintain such a system, Bianchi said.
But Luther Lykes, booking agent for Gray Line Travel, which organizes trips to Yosemite National Park, where two glaciers, the Lyell Glacier and the McClure Glacier, have been retreating for decades, says that man-made climate change is causing the decline. More tourists should be able to see the damage that was done.
"It's nice to see it in pictures, but seeing it in person gives a different impression," said Mr. Reichs. "Honestly, it's scary."