Climate for Life: A call from the Himalayas

WWF has kicked off “Climate for Life,” an innovative year-long campaign to bring the world’s attention to the impacts of global climate change in the Eastern Himalayas.

Interview from Everest

© WWF-Nepal

Listen to a satellite phone interview of Apa and Dawa just after Apa has reached the summit for the 19th time, as he tells WWF’s visiting journalist John Nielsen about the effects of climate change on the Himalayas.

In the campaign’s dramatic opening event, veteran Everest summiteer Apa Sherpa carried a climate change banner to the summit of the world’s highest mountain. After a grueling 6 weeks, Apa completed his 19th ascent to the top of the world on May 21, 2009, where he placed the message “Stop climate change – let the Himalayas live.”

Apa was part of the Eco Everest Expedition, led by Dawa Steven Sherpa, a two-time Everest summiteer and a WWF Climate Witness. Dawa also leads iDEAS, a local environmental organization.
Read Dawa's first-hand observations of climate change in the Eastern

"WWF salutes the efforts of Apa and Dawa in highlighting the extreme vulnerability of the Himalayas to climate change,” said Anil Manandhar, country representative of WWF-Nepal. “The time has come for the world to act on global solutions to climate change because the impacts are already causing a meltdown in the world’s most iconic mountain range.”

Jon Miceler, managing director of WWF-US’s Eastern Himalayas program recalls his many years spent working in the region, saying that “if we don’t take collective action to stop climate change, we risk losing part of our global natural heritage.”

WATCH "Meltdown in Nepal", a journey to the Himalayas with Miss Nepal 2004 who trekked to the Everest region to learn about climate change and witness its impacts on people and places. © WWF-Nepal

The snow leopard is one of many species that will be affected by climate change in the region.

Climate change in the Eastern Himalayas

While climate change is affecting the entire planet, research shows that the impacts in the Himalayas are occurring at alarming rate, with possibly devastating consequences for the entire region.

  • Glaciers: Almost 67% of the glaciers in the Himalayas have retreated. This will result in water scarcity in Nepal and for more than a billion people living downstream who depend on glaciers and snow as a source of freshwater. Nepal alone has 3,000 glaciers and 2,000 glacial lakes – of these, 20 are at risk of bursting. These glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) can be disastrous, washing away people, livestock, forests, farms and infrastructure.

  • Biodiversity: As the fragile ecosystems of the Himalayas warm up, vegetation and wildlife will move to higher altitudes. Rapid climate change will not give plants and animals enough time to adapt. Biodiversity loss will also affect the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of people.

  • Agriculture: Over two-thirds of Nepal's population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Changes in local and regional weather conditions threaten traditional agriculture. Climate change will increase the occurrence of extreme events like floods, droughts and hailstorms, which can also have a drastic effect on agriculture. Rising temperatures and increased rainfall may also lead to more pests and weeds, which will reduce agricultural productivity.

  • Economic development: The increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events can have serious economic consequences on a developing country. The impact of climate change on agriculture and the fragile ecosystems in Nepal will have a direct impact on agricultural productivity and tourism, which are pillars of the country’s economy.

WWF is fighting climate change

  • Locally

    In addition to leading WWF’s “Climate for Life” campaign, WWF-Nepal is active on the ground with cutting-edge scientific research, environmental education, public awareness activities, adaptation and advocacy for the adoption of a unified National Climate Change Policy in Nepal. Learn more about WWF-Nepal’s climate change program

  • Globally

    WWF is leading the way by assessing the potential impacts of climate change and taking steps to reduce the vulnerabilities. We also are aggressively promoting efforts to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases to limit the average global temperature increase to within 2°C compared to preindustrial times. A larger increase in temperature would greatly increase the risk of species extinctions and other irreversible damage to ecosystems. Learn more about WWF's global climate change

Take action with WWF

  • Visit Climate for Life: a call from the Himalayas to learn more about Nepal, the local impacts of climate change, and more …
  • Learn more about the critical climate legislation now before Congress, and find out what you can do to take action 
  • Did you know that the United States is the world's single largest contributor to climate change? You can turn off appliances that you are not using, and unplug items on "standby." Learn More 

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