Nepal has lost almost a third of its ice volume in 30 years, with glaciers melting 65 per cent faster in the last decade than in the previous one.
“The rooftops of the world are caving in,” the UN chief said, warning that the “disappearance of glaciers altogether” looms even larger.
“Glaciers are icy reservoirs – the ones here in the Himalayas supply fresh water to well over a billion people. When they shrink, so do river flows,” he added.
Communities erased forever
Glaciers high in the Himalayas feed large river systems, sustain crops, livestock and local economies, in a region that is home to over 1.8 billion people.
However, with rising global temperatures on the back of climate change, glacial snow ice compressed over centuries is melting faster than ever – not only in the Himalayas, but also in crucial areas such as Antarctica and Greenland.
Mr. Guterres warned that in the future, major Himalayan rivers like the Indus, the Ganges and Brahmaputra, could have massively reduced flows and in combination with saltwater, decimate delta regions.
“That spells catastrophe: Low-lying countries and communities erased forever,” he said.
End fossil fuel age
The Secretary-General said his mission to the Everest region, was to “cry out from the rooftop of the world.”
“Stop the madness,” he emphasized, underscoring the need to end the age of fossil fuel to protect people on the frontlines of climate change induced destruction.
“We must act now to…limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, to avert the worst of climate chaos. The world can’t wait,” he concluded.
Official visit to Nepal
The UN chief is on an official visit to Nepal at the invitation of the Government.
On Sunday, speaking to the media alongside Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Mr. Guterres extended deep condolences to the families of the 10 Nepalese students killed in the terror attacks by Hamas in Israel on 7 October.
He reiterated his call for the protection of all civilians in Gaza, and renewed his appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the delivery of a sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people of Gaza.