INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT RELEASES URGENT CALL TO SCALE UP ACTION FOR PLANET’S ICE REGIONS
International Summit releases urgent call to scale up action for planet’s ice regions. The One Planet- Polar Summit that brought together for the first time experts and leaders from over forty glacial and polar nations, just concluded a high-level segment convened by President Macron with the Paris Call for Glaciers and Poles to address the dramatic and accelerating loss of ice from the polar and high mountain areas from the climate crisis.
These ice regions formally known as the cryosphere cover 10% of the Earth’s surface and include snow, ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and permafrost. They play a vital role in the functioning of the planet- providing fresh water, habitats for wildlife, keeping temperatures cool as well as having cultural and spiritual significance. But ice is melting at alarming rates due to increasing temperatures with devastating consequences for people and wildlife .
Together with France, leaders at the meeting including from China, Germany, India, Norway and Australia, announced a number of initiatives related to the glacier and polar regions including the commitment to increased scientific cooperation to understand and respond to melting ice, such as a major research project in East Antarctica, the launch of a decade of polar and glacier science in 2025, and to scale up international efforts to meet climate and biodiversity goals and commitment.
“This meeting underlined the urgency of political action for the cryosphere: scientists and traditional knowledge holders have been sharing their findings; explorers, civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities have been using their voices to raise awareness on the crisis; and now the next step is very clear- we need bold policies by decision-makers and political action by leaders to make the cryosphere top priority,” said Pascal Lamy, Antarctica2020 co-chair and general rapporteur of the One Planet Polar Summit.
Recommendations by scientists and NGOs highlighted the urgent need to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions and to phase out fossil fuel investments to keep global warming within 1.5C, recognising it will still not be enough to stop the loss of ice altogether. At the same time protection as well as precaution on land and sea must be accelerated to reduce pressure on ecosystems and species from human activities. Sufficient funding was another key ask to boost scientific research and international collaboration to better understand, predict and respond to the accelerating impacts and risks of the disappearing cryosphere was another key ask, with many participants lamenting the current “melting of research budgets”.
“We heard hugely worrying statistics from scientists and heart-breaking testimonials from Indigenous Peoples whose homes, livelihoods, culture and even lives are threatened by the impacts of rapidly melting ice. At the same time there was a message of hope. If we rally together, we still have a small window of opportunity to make the best of a bad situation. The world’s experts have given a blueprint for cryosphere action. We now need the political courage of leaders to deliver it.” said Genevieve Pons, Director General and Vice President, Europe Jacques Delors and Antarctica 2020 co-chair and convenor of the NGO sessions during the Summit.
Frustration has been mounting at the lack of progress in protecting Antarctica and its waters within the responsible body – the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), despite a year of extremes in the region, with Antarctic sea ice at a record low and Avian flu just arriving on the continent.
“You can’t negotiate the melting point of water, which means that every one tenth of a degree of warming above 1.5C will have huge impacts on Antarctica’s ice. We need urgent climate and biodiversity action to address this unfolding tragedy, including prioritising high-level diplomacy to unlock marine protection in CCAMLR as soon as possible. We hope this Paris Call is not just hot air but a turning point for cryosphere action. The upcoming Climate Conference in Dubai in a couple of weeks and the 3rd UN Ocean Conference in France in 2025 will be a clear tests of how serious leaders are in saving our planet’s ice,” said Jim Barnes, Founder of the Antarctica and Southern Ocean Coalition.