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Melting Glaciers in Nepal Threaten Communities, UN Chief Urges Action

BY ALEX BALUKU

Baluku is a distinguished Fellow of the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists, currently reporting from the United States of America on the 78th UN General Assembly. With a keen eye for global affairs and a commitment to delivering insightful coverage of UN activities, Baluku brings a unique perspective to the world of international journalism.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a compelling call to action during his visit to the Everest region in Nepal, where melting glaciers are pushing entire communities to the brink of extinction. Nepal has witnessed the loss of nearly a third of its ice volume over the past 30 years, with glaciers melting at a staggering rate, 65 percent faster in the last decade compared to the previous one.

“The rooftops of the world are caving in,” warned the UN chief, highlighting the looming threat of glaciers disappearing altogether. These glaciers are critical as they act as icy reservoirs, supplying fresh water to over a billion people. In the Himalayas, these glaciers sustain large river systems, which, in turn, support agriculture, livestock, and local economies.

However, the relentless impacts of climate change, driven by rising global temperatures, are causing glacial snow ice to melt faster than ever before, not only in the Himalayas but also in crucial regions like Antarctica and Greenland.

António Guterres issued a dire warning about the future, stating that major Himalayan rivers such as the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra could see massively reduced flows. When combined with saltwater intrusion, these changes could spell catastrophe, leading to the erasure of low-lying countries and communities forever.

“The world can’t wait,” the UN Secretary-General emphasized. He stressed the urgent need to end the age of fossil fuels and to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C to avert the worst impacts of climate chaos.

Nepal, home to a diverse and vibrant population, is witnessing firsthand the devastating effects of climate change. The communities in the Everest region, among others, are grappling with the consequences of rapidly vanishing glaciers. With water resources dwindling, agriculture and livelihoods are under threat. This situation underscores the need for immediate, global action to address the climate crisis.

Crucial Upcoming UN Climate Summit

The Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohamed, emphasized the critical importance of the upcoming UN climate summit, known as COP28, set to take place in the United Arab Emirates next month.

Delivering opening remarks at a preparatory meeting held in Abu Dhabi, Mohamed stressed that the summit comes at a pivotal moment in the fight against the climate crisis.

The summit’s primary focus is on the Global Stocktake, which is a sequence of UN-facilitated meetings and events over the past year to assess progress toward the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Amina Mohamed underscored the urgency for the summit to respond decisively to the alarming scientific findings and existing gaps in mitigation, adaptation, and addressing loss and damage.

The preparatory meeting, or Pre-COP, held in Abu Dhabi, aims to lay the groundwork for negotiations at COP28. It’s considered a key opportunity for the world to unite behind a collective ambition to transform the global response to the climate crisis. With conflicts and strife affecting various parts of the world, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Simon Stiell, acknowledged the challenges of the current global climate discussions.

Stiell stressed the need for clear and ambitious agreements to address climate change, as vague commitments from previous agreements have left the world in a state of uncertainty. He highlighted that the world needs a clear path to chart the way forward to combat climate change and urged for increased climate ambition.

The Pre-COP meeting is taking place one month before COP28, which will be held in Abu Dhabi from November 30 to December 12. The world will be closely watching as nations come together to take decisive action in response to the ongoing climate crisis.

As melting glaciers in Nepal threaten communities with extinction, the UN Secretary-General’s call to “stop the madness” of climate change reverberates across the world. The urgency to address climate change is underscored by the imminent COP28 summit, where global leaders and delegates will be expected to respond decisively to the climate crisis and chart a clear path toward a sustainable future.

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