Pizol glacier: Swiss hold funeral for ice lost to global warming

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A Swiss glacier lost to global warming has been commemorated at a memorial service in the Alps.

Dozens of people took part in Sunday’s “funeral march” to mark the disappearance of the Pizol glacier.

The glacier, in the Glarus Alps of northeastern Switzerland, has shrunk to a tiny fraction of its original size.

Scientists say the glacier has lost at least 80% of its volume just since 2006, a trend accelerated by rising global temperatures.

As mourners gathered in the Swiss Alps, youth activists and world leaders are in New York to discuss climate change action at the UN.

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Saturday’s UN youth summit came a day after millions of people around the world held a global climate strike, inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg.

Yet despite what action humans take now, a study by Swiss researchers suggests that, by 2050, at least half of Switzerland’s glaciers could vanish.

The Pizol has diminished to such an extent, “from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier”, Alessandra Degiacomi, a Swiss climate campaigner, told AFP news agency.

Now reduced to just a few frozen lumps, the glacier was to be declared dead at the ceremony, the BBC’s Geneva correspondent, Imogen Foulkes, said.

Locals, hikers and environmental campaigners, some dressed in black clothes, trekked up the mountain to pay their respects to the glacier’s remnants, situated at an altitude of around 2,700m (8,850ft), near the Liechtenstein and Austrian borders.

At the ceremony, sombre speeches were to be delivered by a chaplain and scientists and a wreath was to be laid in remembrance of the glacier.

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The event was organised by the Swiss Association for Climate Protection (SACP), an initiative calling for carbon dioxide emissions in Switzerland to be reduced to zero by 2050.

A similar ceremony was held in Iceland last month to commemorate Okjokull, a 700-year-old glacier declared dead in 2014.

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