FRENCH PRESIDENT VOWS TO PROTECT MONT BLANC
14th February 2020
Last modified on February 16th, 2020
Emmanuel Macron has been to Chamonix to see for himself the damage caused to the country’s largest glacier by global warming and announce measures to protect the mountain from over-tourism.
The President has promised to create a new nature reserve around the mountain and take a series of environmental measures to deal with the impact of climate change.
He was shown the Mer de Glace in the Vallée Blanche.
France’s biggest glacier is 7.4km (4.7 miles) long but it has been shrinking dramatically in recent years.
“What we see with this glacier melting is irrefutable proof of global warming,” Mr Macron said.
The Elysée Palace posted the video below of his visit.
“You don’t have to go to the North Pole to watch the ice melt,” the President’s office said on Facebook.
“Here on Mont Blanc, the impact of climate change hits you instantly. The Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in mainland France, is melting at an exponential speed: it has retreated by 700m in 30 years.”
Mr Macron also posted two images on his Twitter account, showing the Mer de Glace in 1910 and 2020.
“This is what we are fighting for,” he said.
His visit comes shortly after an image from the webcam of the Mer de Glace at Montenvers went viral.
Many skiers and snowboarders expressed their shock at the condition of the glacier at the start of February.
This winter has so far been the warmest since 1881 in Chamonix, according to the weather forecaster Météo France.
The average temperature in December and January was 1.2 degrees Celsius, 3.1 degrees above the long-term average.
In statements to coincide with the Presidential visit to the Chamonix valley and aimed at reducing the impact of climate change, the French government said it would stop buying single-use plastics this summer, and give civil servants a bonus for sharing a car or cycling to work.
It’s also planning to use electric or hybrid ministerial cars.
During his visit President Macron also announced that a protected nature reserve would be created around Mont Blanc by the end of 2020.
There are to be restrictions on the number of people who can visit the mountain and new rules for those who do.
Local officials have previously expressed concern at the behaviour of some visitors to Mont Blanc and what they consider to be over-tourism on the mountain.
In 2019 two incidents caused particular outrage.
Two Swiss climbers landed a plane high on the mountain so they could hike to the top.
And a British man carrying a rowing machine up Mont Blanc to raise money for charity had to leave it there temporarily after bad weather came in.