Glaciers across the globe – including the last ones in Africa – will be unavoidably lost by 2050 due to climate change, the UN says in a report.
A third of glaciers located in UN World Heritage sites will melt within three decades, a UNESCO report found.
Mount Kilimanjaro’s last glaciers will vanish as will glaciers in the Alps and Yosemite National Park in the US.
They will melt regardless of the world’s actions to combat climate change, the authors say.
About 18,600 glaciers have been identified across 50 UN World Heritage sites. They represent almost 10% of the Earth’s glacierised area and include renowned tourist spots and places sacred to local populations.
The retreat and disappearance of glaciers was “among the most dramatic evidence that Earth’s climate is warming”, the report said.
“We hope we might be wrong, but this is the hard science,” said UNESCO project officer Tales Carvalho Resende, one of the authors. “Glaciers are one of the valuable indicators of climate change, because they’re visible. This is something we can really see happening.”
The remaining two thirds of glaciers in UN World Heritage sites could be saved, but only if the world limits global warming to 1.5C, the authors say.