Launch of the One Planet – Polar Summit, the veil is lifted | Polarjournal
Mount Ross is home to one of the main glaciers in the Kerguelen archipelago, with the others forming the Cook ice cap. Image: Camille Lin

The One Planet – Polar Summit will welcome scientists, explorers, funders, NGOs and political representatives, to formalise a discourse on the collapse of the cryosphere and unite countries around this cause.

Yesterday, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, the French ambassador for the poles, unveiled part of the One Planet – Polar Summit programme at a press conference. As we previously reported, it will be held from 8 to 10 November, between the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle and the Palais Brongniart, as a prelude to the Paris Peace Forum.

On the evening of November 7, a film will open the event, with a preview screening of Journey to the South Pole, by Luc Jacquet – director of The Emperor’s March. Over the following days, round-table discussions will be held with explorers such as Jean-Louis Étienne and those from the Tara Océan Foundation.

The latter bring a sense of wonder and dream, and their accounts are marked by the trials and tribulations of the field. They also have projects to provide technical support for science. Some are at work, others are being studied. Photographers and video-makers will also be on hand to keep the audience shivering.

In this polar atmosphere, the central message will be conveyed by 300 scientists on November 8 and 9. They will set out the most robust and recent findings on the “collapse of the cryosphere”, its causes and consequences. They will then make recommendations to politicians in the countries concerned and those present on how to limit the extent of this disappearance and adapt to it.

Many French scientists are examining polar issues, and many of them. The learned society dedicated to the poles, CNFRAA, will be playing a key role in organising the event. Its president, Anne Choquet-Sauvin, hopes that “this will also be an opportunity to send out strong signals to set up a major national research programme on polar sciences with ambitious projects”.

International researchers will also be present, from the Alfred-Wegener-Institut for example, as well as the World Meteorological Organisation and the Swiss Polar Institute. But the full list is still being drawn up, and only Antje Boetius and Jérôme Chappellaz have been announced for the time being. French climatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte will introduce the Forum.

Members of the World Glacier Monitoring Service will also be present at the summit, as they claim that the Antarctic Peninsula alone has more than 1,000 different glaciers. Image: Camille Lin

“The collapse of the cryosphere does not just concern countries with glaciers or those close to the Arctic or Antarctic,” says Olivier Poivre d’Arvor. Depending on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted between now and 2100, the melting of the poles and high mountain ice, combined with warmer water, could cause sea levels to rise by more than a metre on average, threatening all coastal countries.

In Bangladesh, rising sea levels are already having an impact on agriculture and drinking water because of the salinisation of land and groundwater. In another example, the Pacific islands are subject to a growing risk of flooding. The impact on the availability of drinking water is expected to affect one billion people by 2050. By 2100, one and a half billion people will be directly affected by rising sea levels.

The deltas of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers are among the most sensitive areas to rising sea levels, with a population density of almost a thousand inhabitants per square kilometre. Image: ESA

So on the afternoon of the 9th, “worrying” findings and recommendations will be transmitted to the leaders of some forty countries, “politicians, authorities, scientists and, in some countries, ministers”.

On the 10th, “a working lunch will bring together heads of state and government, with around ten of them attending in person and others giving testimonies”, says the ambassador, in the hope that they will rally to the cause.

A public session will close the event and introduce the next one, the Paris Peace Forum. This event will be open to the general public, who will be informed of the resolutions adopted. It is to be hoped that they will be commensurate with what is at stake.

Countries could then join the “Ambition of melting ice” coalition, which brings together countries concerned about the melting ice, and whose secretariat is currently provided by Iceland and Chile.

The melting of the ice can be accelerated by the growth of black mosses on its surface or by the deposition of combustion particles, which are also black. Image: Derek Ford

The event could also be an opportunity to affirm the financial support of French infrastructures in the poles that require renovation and reconstruction. The creation of an Interministerial Council for the clusters would provide an opportunity to reflect on an optimised nautical strategy, combining defence issues, sovereignty and the protection of natural areas. These projects are set out in the government’s Polar Strategy and the Polar Programming Bill. A text that is now waiting to be debated in Parliament.

The summit will also provide an opportunity to inaugurate, at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the creation of the Albédo Foundation for the Cryosphere, supported for its launch by Frédérik Paulsen, benefactor and polar explorer. The foundation will support the CNRS’s scientific research programmes, including some in collaboration with Quebec.

Private economic players are also invited to take part in the One Planet – Polar Summit. “The aim is not to advertise cruises,” declared the Polar Ambassador at the press conference, pointing out that tourism is a reality and that it is impossible to ban it in the countries that depend on it, but that it is possible to regulate it.

According to Anne Choquet-Sauvin, “it is essential to address this issue, so that we can develop measures to limit its impact on human and environmental safety.”

Camille Lin, PolarJournal

Link to the page of the summit

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