Sustainable tourism boost, record Antarctic sea ice melt — Global Issues

That’s the message from UN chief António Guterres on World Tourism Day observed on Wednesday.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism employs one in every 10 people on Earth.

To protect tourism jobs, Mr. Guterres said that governments and businesses must invest in sustainable and resilient practices, embrace renewable energy, and better protect the “biodiversity and ecological balance” of all destinations.

The UN chief stressed that targeted investments can deliver jobs and support local businesses and industries while mitigating the environmental impacts of tourism.

“Investing in sustainable tourism is investing in a better future for all,” he said.

Maritime transport must decarbonize ‘as soon as possible’: UNCTAD

Action is urgently needed to combat surging carbon emissions in the shipping industry, the UN trade and development body UNCTAD said on Wednesday.

Ahead of World Maritime Day on 28 September, UNCTAD called for cleaner fuels, digital solutions and clear and universal carbon regulations in an industry accounting for over 80 per cent of the world’s trade volume, in which emissions have risen by one fifth over the past decade.

The trade body’s Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan insisted that maritime transport needs to decarbonize “as soon as possible”, while ensuring economic growth.

“Balancing environmental sustainability, regulatory compliance and economic demands is vital for a prosperous, equitable and resilient future for maritime transport,” she said.

Investment in green technologies is urgent as nearly 99 per cent of the global shipping fleet still relies on conventional fuels, and commercial vessels are on average over 22 years old.

UNCTAD reports that up to an additional $28 billion will be required annually to decarbonize ships by 2050 and up to $90 billion will be needed each year to develop infrastructure for entirely carbon-neutral fuels by 2050.

Full decarbonization could double annual fuel expenses, potentially affecting small island developing states and least developed countries that rely heavily on maritime transport.

Antarctica sea ice falls well below previous record low: WMO

And in another climate alert, Antarctic sea ice has fallen well below its previous record low of lasts year, according to data from the United States Government monitoring service, said the UN weather agency late on Tuesday.

Having reached its maximum level during winter in the southern hemisphere, it has dipped below 17 million square kilometres for the first time since records began in 1979.

That is a full million km² below 2022, said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) – an area greater than the size of Egypt.

One of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center scientists issuing the alert said it was far outside anything seen before and “almost mind-blowing”.

The consequences of continued ice melt could have far-reaching consequences for long-term seasonal evolution, said WMO.

Scientists with WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch are on alert to see if this is the start of a new worrying trend due to rising emissions in the atmosphere and ocean.

“The 2023 Antarctic sea-ice deficit has direct impacts on the climate- and ecosystems, both nearby as well as far field, including at lower latitudes, which are home to the majority of human population and their economic interests,” said Dr Petra Heil, an expert from the Australia Antarctic Division and part of WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch.

“There is growing concern about rapid changes in the cryosphere – melting sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers,” says Omar Baddour, chief of climate monitoring at WMO.

“The drop in Antarctic sea ice this year has been really dramatic. What happens in Antarctica and the Arctic affects the entire globe,” he added.

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