France has announced a €1 billion investment in polar research by 2030. This investment comes as the world faces challenges from climate change, with rising temperatures in polar regions posing a threat to millions.

One significant feature of this initiative is the introduction of a cutting-edge polar science vessel that will spearhead the research efforts. The vessel will gather data to understand the rapidly transforming cryosphere, as well as monitor the consequences of global warming on the ecosystems.

French President Emmanuel Macron pointed out that the transformation of the cryosphere not only endangers millions but will have far-reaching effects impacting billions. Macron has called for a moratorium on seabed exploitation in polar regions. The call has received support from 21 countries, including the UK, Canada, and Brazil.

The year 2023 is reported as the hottest on record, with ocean temperatures significantly exceeding normal levels.

The “albedo effect,” essential for temperature regulation, is under threat as melting ice reduces the Earth’s ability to reflect sunlight into space. This reduction in albedo exposes the dark sea, which absorbs more heat, potentially causing a rapid increase in global heating.

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, has warned of irreversible tipping points and stressed the need to understand and address them. Scientists like Sir David King advocate for drastic measures such as researching ways to refreeze the Arctic Ocean to avoid the worst consequences.

Pam Pearson from the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative criticised the lack of action, stressing the urgency as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise at an alarming rate. Macron emphasised the non-negotiable nature of negotiating with the melting point of ice.

France, with its glaciers in the Alps and a presence in Antarctica, takes a leading role in pushing for agreements at the upcoming UN COP28 climate summit in Dubai. Macron previously hosted a climate finance summit in June, advocating for trillions of dollars in investment in the developing world.

The head of the World Meteorological Organisation, Petteri Taalas, warns that melting glaciers globally will lead to severe water and agriculture shortages for over 1 billion people. Urgent measures include reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, with a focus on addressing contributors like soot, or black carbon, identified as a significant factor in ice melting. Cleaning up air pollution, particularly by stopping the burning of coal, is suggested to have an immediate impact.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is also a focus, with efforts to reduce methane and other short-lived climate pollutants projected to slow warming by 0.24C by 2050. The forthcoming Cop28 UN climate summit may address methane reduction, with experts urging the United Arab Emirates, as hosts, to broker a deal with major oil and gas producers to reduce methane leakage from fossil fuel operations.